Less than an hour before arbitration salary figures need to be exchanged between players and teams, the Cleveland Indians have agreed to a one-year deal with closer Cody Allen worth $4.15 million. This is the 27-year-old’s first year of arbitration eligibility.
Last season was Allen’s second as the full-time closer of the Indians, his third straight season throwing 65.0+ innings, and arguably his best career year by advanced metrics. His ERA was the highest it has been in three years (2.99), but his FIP was dramatically lower (1.82 in 2015, 2.73 for his career), and he struck out a career-high 34.6 percent of batters he faced while walking only 8.7 percent. He led all relievers in fWAR with 2.6.
Some bad breaks and not a lot of opportunities meant that Allen only 34 saves, the 13th most in the majors. As useless of a stat as they are, saves are generally accepted to be what decides how much a closer is paid, and it lead to Allen being one of the highest paid arbitration-eligible players so far; granted that will not stand long as more players begin to sign. But you have to wonder how much more Allen would have made without the emphasis on saves.
MLB Trade Rumors estimated that Allen would have made $3.5 million in salary arbitration court, which seemed like a big number even then, but the Indians went over that by $600k. Still, considering he is one of best closers in the league, it is hard not to be okay with it -- even as a slight overpay compared to estimates
With Allen's signing, the Indians have only three arbitration-eligible players left to sign: Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Tomlin, and Jeff Manship.
UPDATE: Jordan Bastian is reporting that the Indians have agreed to terms with all arbitration-eligible players. No messy courtroom drama for this team.
Indians' 1-year deals to avoid arb: Allen: $4.15M Chisenhall: $2.725M Manship: $760,000 Tomlin: $2.25M— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) January 15, 2016