By Stephanie Storm
Beacon Journal sports writer
The Indians avoided at least one of the team’s four potential arbitration cases Monday night, agreeing with outfielder Michael Brantley on a four-year, $25 million contract.
According to multiple sources, the deal for the Tribe’s left fielder could reach $36 million if an additional $11 million club option is exercised in 2018. The Indians had not yet officially announced the deal as of Monday night at press time.
The contract is a large pay upgrade for Brantley, who made $526,900 last season. In five seasons (the last three full time) in the major leagues, Brantley owns a career batting average of .277 with 26 home runs and 212 RBI. His case was slated to appear in front of arbitrators in Florida Feb. 17.
Brantley came to Cleveland in 2008 as the Player to be Named Later in the multi-player, blockbuster deal that sent Tribe ace pitcher C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee at the trade deadline.
Last season, he recorded a career-high 17 stolen bases while hitting .284 with 10 homers and 73 RBI — even as he appeared in every spot in the lineup as first-year manager Terry Francona experimented with the best place to bat him and others.
The Indians’ streak of not having to go to arbitration since 1991 ended Sunday, albeit with a victory of sorts, when the team won its case against reliever Vinnie Pestano. The right-hander will earn $975,000 in 2014 instead of the $1.45 million he was seeking.
Slated next for arbitration is right-handed pitcher Josh Tomlin, whose case is scheduled for Friday. The Indians’ arbitration case with the most riding on it is scheduled for Feb. 28 with ace pitcher Justin Masterson.