Cleveland has successfully avoided the messy arbitration court process with at least one player after agreeing to a $2 million deal to keep Nick Wittgren in town through 2021.
Wittgren, 29, was acquired prior to the 2019 season after being designated for assignment by the Marilns.
In two years and 81.1 innings since, he has been a consistent success for managers Terry Francona and Sandy Alomar Jr., even quietly being a weapon in clutch situations for the team. He has struck out 26.7% of the batters he has faced and walked 6.4% of opponents in a Cleveland uniform.
Steamer projects a lot of regression for Wittgren in 2021, putting him at a 4.50 ERA, 22.8%, and 8.2% walk rate in an estimated 63.0 innings of relief. That would not be too surprising, given the absence of a true dominant pitch and high hard-hit rate, but maybe he can ride out his penchant for coming through in the clutch and turn in another solid performance out of the bullpen next season.
The $2 million contract comes just under MLB Trade Rumors’ highest estimate of $2.2 million. As of this writing, it leaves Phil Maton, Austin Hedges, and Francisco Lindor as the only remaining arbitration-eligible players on the roster and without a contract.
MLBTR estimates Lindor will make anywhere from $17.5 to $21.5 million, based on various projection methods, but it’s unlikely the Indians will come anywhere near paying him that money before’s dealt.