Given what we heard during spring training, as far as talks between the Cleveland Indians and their second baseman Jason Kipnis are concerned, the news coming out of Cleveland on Friday shouldn’t be much of a surprise at all. With the two sides attempting to come together on a contract extension during the March exhibition season, they were finally able to hammer out the details in announcing a new six-year pact heading into the weekend.
The Indians broke into the ranks of the American League contenders last year, with a pretty young ballclub led on the field by the likes of Kipnis. The Arizona State product represents one of the better middle infielders in all of baseball, and an obvious building block for a Cleveland club looking to find any sort of sustained success.
The expectation was that a deal for Kipnis would look very similar to what the St. Louis Cardinals gave Matt Carpenter several weeks ago, with the two posting nearly identical numbers over their brief careers, though Kipnis has more service time at the Major League level. That expectation came to complete fruition in this deal, with Kipnis getting six years and $52.5 million, half a million more than Carpenter will earn over the course of his deal.
With the new deal, Kipnis has all of his arbitration years bought out, as well as a pair of free agent years. The deal comes with an option for 2020.
The 2013 season represented the best campaign of the brief career of Jason Kipnis. He established himself as an elite second baseman, going for a .284 average and reaching base at a .366 clip, while setting new career marks for home runs (17) and doubles (36). He also added 30 swipes to the equation, all adding up to a 4.5 WAR, which ranked fourth among second basemen in the entire league last season.
The deal’s obviously a tremendous positive for the Tribe and means yet another young player locked up for a rising organization. Of course, even better news for the Indians would be to add Justin Masterson to the list of extended youngsters before the year is out.