According to Jon Heyman (and common sense), Cleveland has made multiple offers to extend one of the best starting pitchers in baseball over the last two offseasons.
Shane Bieber, who has a record 20 straight starts with at least 8 K’s, has received multiyear contract offers from the Indians the last 2 springs. The Indians are still hopeful to get something done as he isn’t a free agent until after 2024.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 12, 2021
Heyman’s tweet confirms something we already knew: Shane Bieber and Cleveland have been discussing long-term deals for a while now. What’s suspiciously absent from the information is any kind of dollar amount that Cleveland is offering.
This is already the same kind of song and dance that Cleveland’s front office put on for years leading up to the Francisco Lindor trade in January. The first was an accidental “leak” from general manager Mike Chernoff’s son during a spring training game in early 2017. From then on it was a barrage of “we’re doing our best OK” followed by nothing.
Even after the trade, we learned that Cleveland’s offer had made it as high as $250 million before they stopped budging. Lindor eventually signed a $341 million deal with the Mets — they were never really that close.
For Bieber’s part, he didn’t sound like he’s discussing it much. In late March, with Opening Day right around the corner, he told reporters that he hadn’t had many in-depth discussions about it quite yet.
I haven’t really gotten into very many talks, at least in-depth. With Opening Day coming up right here, right in front of us, I think that’ll be what it is until maybe next offseason
Heyman’s reporting doesn’t necessarily contradict that, either. If Cleveland texted him “hey here’s $20 and a mentos please don’t leave in a few years,” they’re still offering him deals. That doesn’t mean they are anywhere close to a deal.
It’s too early to lose all hope of locking up Bieber long-term, though. At the very least, he will be in Cleveland via arbitration through the 2024 season, and it’s still early enough to realistically buy out one or two of his free-agent years. Bieber also wasn’t a multi-millionaire right from the draft, either. Unlike Lindor, who received a $2.9 million signing bonus as the eighth-overall pick 2011 MLB Draft, Bieber received a paltry $420,000 as a fourth-round pick in 2016. That is to say, he doesn’t have as much of a safety net as Lindor, who was willing to wait it out and hit free agency to get his big payday if he had to.
Joe Coblitz over at Indians Baseball Insider already did the legwork on what a potential extension could look like, based on the contract that Corey Kluber signed in 2015. Of course, being that Bieber is four years younger than Kluber was, and might already be better, he would come at a higher premium.
Coblitz’s model (which is the Kluber contract plus some additions based on the current market) suggested a seven-year, $120.7 million deal heading into the 2021 season. That would have bought out his final year of a controlled, major-league minimum salary, all three years of arbitration, plus three more of free agency. Those final three are where things get most expensive and expecting Cleveland to do that, based on what we know about their spending habits, seems optimistic. Still, that’s a lot better than the $300-plus million they needed to retain Lindor.
The 2020 unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner is currently riding an MLB-record streak of 20 straight starts with eight strikeouts or more. He has already set two new personal records for pitch counts in a game this season and it’s only May 12. At only 25 years old with a Cy Young under his belt and gunning for another, he has a bright future ahead of him. Wherever it is.