Explaining Masterson's demise

Three key factors have caused the Indians' righty to take a step back in 2014

Updated: May 23, 2014, 10:55 AM ET
By Justin Havens | ESPN Insider

Justin MastersonJason Miller/Getty ImagesJustin Masterson's average fastball is less than 90 mph this year, way down from 2013.

One of the more interesting exchanges from this past offseason was the dance between the Cleveland Indians and the pitcher who had been the most effective member of their rotation in 2013, Justin Masterson.

Masterson is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season, and according to reports, made overtures to the Indians about an interest in signing a multiyear deal. In the wake of Homer Bailey's lavish extension, Masterson's reported demands of a four-year deal to stay in Cleveland -- not exactly a marquee destination when players look to sign long-term deals -- seemed entirely reasonable.

But those seemingly reasonable contract demands were met with odd silence, or perhaps what can now be viewed as disinterest from the Indians' front office. While it would have been fair to assume this was another case of the Indians not wanting to spend money, the first 11 starts of Masterson's season -- which feature a 5.32 ERA and a career-high 4.3 walks per nine -- suggest the team had good reason for its caution.