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Indians interested in bringing back Justin Masterson

Nothing wrong with talking, but would signing Masterson actually make much sense for the Tribe?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians have spoken with Justin Masterson (and/or his agent) about a possible return to Cleveland; this per Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.

Hoynes reports that the Indians are only interested in signing him to a one-year deal. This makes sense, because the team already has most of the money they're likely to spend for 2016 tied up. Masterson is said to be interested in a one-year deal as well though, because after a miserable 2014 he's interested in rebuilding his value and going for a bigger payday next offseason.

Masterson had a couple really good years for the Indians, and was well-liked by coaches, teammates, and fans, so it makes sense that both sides would have some interest in a reunion. I'm not sold on such a thing actually making much sense for the team though.

As I said (and as you probably already knew), Masterson had a really bad year. He averaged little more than 5 innings a start in 19 games for the Indians, with an ugly 5.88 ERA due in large part to a terrible walk rate. He was then even worse for St. Louis after the trade, with a 7.04 ERA and 6 home runs allowed in 30.2 innings. He says (as mentioned in the same Hoynes column) the oblique strain he suffered in 2013 was still bothering him this spring, but because he didn't want to spend his walk year on the DL, he didn't tell anyone. Hypothetically he could bounce back to his 2013 form. That's far from a certainty though.

Masterson isn't going to have to settle for a minor league deal or anything like that. I expect someone will be willing to give him a one-year deal for $8 or 9 million. That would be almost all the money the Indians are likely to spend this offseason. If he represented a clear upgrade, I could support that kind of commitment, but it's not at all clear he represents an upgrade, especially because right now the Indians appear to have five good starters.

Will Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and T.J. House all have good seasons in 2015? Probably not. They each did well enough to feel comfortable with them in the rotation to start the season though, which means any starting pitcher brought in this offseason should be primarily a depth move, and $8 or 9 million is too much to pay for depth. The clear available upgrades are all going to require longterm commitments the Indians don't want to make. The team should be targeting a couple low-cost guys for depth, not spending nearly eight figures on it.