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Extension Candidate: Jason Kipnis


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Oct 16, 2013
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Second baseman Jason Kipnis and the Indians discussed the possibility of an extension last spring, but put those talks on hold when the 2013 season began. This year, Kipnis is again open to discussing an extension, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. "Absolutely," Kipnis said when asked whether he would consider a multiyear deal. "We haven’t talked about it yet. My guess is if we started it would probably start in spring training when everyone reports. I think they have their hands full with arbitration cases right now."
Kipnis is the Indians' best player, and there are few holes in his offensive game. He hits for excellent power for a middle infielder, draws plenty of walks, and adds value on the bases. There's every reason to expect him to continue to be productive for the next few seasons. Those are seasons the Indians already control, however, which might make it tricky to negotiate a long-term deal with his representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Kipnis has 2.069 years of service time and will become arbitration-eligible next winter. He's eligible for free agency after 2017, which is his age-30 season. According to MLBTR's Extension Tracker, no second baseman with between two and three years of service time has signed an extension since Ben Zobrist in 2010. Expanding the field to include shortstops and third basemen doesn't yield many particularly revealing comparables, either, although Alexei Ramirez's four-year, $32.5MM contract, signed prior to the 2011 season, comes close. The deal did not kick in until 2012, however, which would have been Ramirez's second year of arbitration eligibility. Kipnis won't hit arbitration for the second time until two years from now.
To fashion a possible extension for Kipnis, let's look at recent arbitration cases to see what Kipnis might make in the 2015 through 2017 seasons. Via MLBTR's 2013 Arbitration Tracker, here are last year's arbitration results for players with between three and four years of service time. One that stands out is Ian Desmond, a shortstop who had been less consistent than Kipnis through that point in his career, but who had a similarly broad package of hitting and baserunning skills. Desmond made $3.8MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Neil Walker, another broadly-similar player, made $3.3MM, although that was as a Super Two.
Our starting point for Kipnis' 2015 season probably ought to be somewhat higher than Desmond's $3.8MM for 2013, compensating for Kipnis' greater consistency. If we guess that Kipnis might make $4.4MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility next winter, then he might make a total of about $20MM in his three arbitration seasons. Add in the $500K or so Kipnis is set to make this season, and we have a basic framework for an extension. The Indians might want to add in another guaranteed year, perhaps including an option. That might bring the total to something like five years and around $30MM-$35MM.
The main reason teams like pre-free agency extensions, however, is because they can control players beyond when they would have previously been eligible for free agency. How valuable Kipnis' free agent seasons will be, though, remains to be seen. Kipnis didn't debut until he was 24, and isn't eligible for free agency until he's about to turn 31.

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Top 5 2B in the game, lock him up, Indians!


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CLEVELAND -- Only hours before this season's home opener, the Indians guaranteed Jason Kipnis will be around for more than a few more.

The All-Star second baseman agreed to a $52.5 million, six-year contract Friday, binding him to the Indians through the 2019 season. The deal includes a club option for 2020.

"It's an amazing feeling to get something done," Kipnis said. "I wanted to stay here. I'm excited about being here. "

Kipnis is the latest core player to be signed to a long-term deal by the Indians, who reached agreements with outfielder Michael Brantley (four years, $25 million) and catcher Yan Gomes (six years, $23 million) in the past two months.

"It's the ownership, the top, showing us that they believe in us, that we've got the guys who can win games now and we want them to stick around," Kipnis said. "I'm excited about being a part of that."

Kipnis previously signed a one-year deal worth $554,900 in the major leagues and $305,700 in the minors. The new deal covers this season, all three of his arbitration-eligible years and extends through at least the first two seasons after he could have become a free agent.

The Indians and Kipnis' agents had been negotiating a deal for months.

"This was our third attempt at it, so it's good to finally be able to get it done," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "It's a complicated thing. You have to figure out what the right value is, what the appropriate way is to share risk, and this was the time we were able to do it."

Kipnis developed into one of the American League's rising stars last season, batting .284 with 17 homers and 84 RBIs in 149 games. He also stole 30 bases, scored 86 runs and led the Indians in runs, hits, RBIs and steals.

Kipnis has endeared himself to the Indians, manager Terry Francona and Cleveland fans with his hustling, win-at-all-costs playing style.

That grit was on display Wednesday night in the ninth inning in Oakland, when after twice failing to move two runners over with a bunt, Kipnis beat out a fielder's choice, stole second and scored the go-ahead run as the Indians rallied for a 6-4 win in the second game of a doubleheader.

"That was Kip in a bottle," Francona said. "That's the way Kip plays. You'd see a lot of guys maybe not get the bunt down, strike out, get mad because we asked him to bunt and we lose."

After going 92-70 last season and making the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Indians have shown a strong commitment to winning now. That hasn't always been the case in Cleveland, where fans have seen the front office trade star pitchers CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee before they could leave as free agents.

These new deals, coming a year after the Indians signed free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to multiyear contracts, are signals that the club intends to compete for a championship.

"It's so awesome," Swisher said. "This is not a one-and-done organization anymore. The moves that we're making are all the right moves."

The signings, too, have changed outside perception of the Indians, who haven't won a World Series title since 1948.

"When I was on other teams in coming to Cleveland, if you didn't sweep, it was a bad road trip," said Swisher, who previously played with the Yankees, White Sox and A's. "For us now, people are realizing that when you come in here, we're going to fight for it. I think last year's record speaks for itself, but that wasn't our goal, to go out and have one great, amazing season and then just fall off. Everything is going in the right direction."


Great move by the FO. Going to be the face of the franchise for years to come imo.