The Indians streak of being arbitration free for 22 seasons is over with Vinnie Pestano’s case taking place in Florida on Friday, but the club still came out on the winning side.
A panel of three arbitrators ruled in favor of the club’s contract offer to Pestano for $975,000 for the 2014 season that begins next week with spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. Pestano, who made $500,000 in an injury-riddled 2013 campaign, was hoping to land a $1.45 million contract.
The Indians hadn’t had a player go to arbitration since 1991 when Greg Swindell won and Jerry Browne lost. But this offseason, they weren’t able to find a middle ground on contract offers for four of their six arbitration-eligible players — ironically, the most cases in the major leagues this year.
Pestano was one of the Tribe’s top relievers in 2011 and 2012, posting a 2.45 ERA in a combined 137 appearances. In 132 innings, he struck out 160 batters. But his 2013 season never got on track after he injured his right elbow pitching for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. After missing time to the disabled list, he went on to lose his setup role and was ultimately demoted to the minors.
Pestano finished the season with a 1-2 record and 4.08 ERA in 37 major-league appearances. He was 6-for-6 in crucial save situations while spelling injured and former Tribe closer Chris Perez.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin is next up. He is seeking a contract worth $975,000. The Indians countered with a $800,000 offer.
Outfielder Michael Brantley is scheduled for arbitration Feb. 17 and right-hander Justin Masterson on Feb. 20.