He has a career 3.29 ERA, he strikes out a lot of people, and already has a Cy Young award.
If you missed Shane Bieber's start last night, you missed a masterful performance … Seriously.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) April 14, 2021
However, he is starting to get expensive.
He remains a key cog for Cleveland, and they may want to extend his time on the team for many more years.
Here are three reasons why the Guardians may be better off spending this time.
3. It Will Keep Fans Engaged And Involved
Bieber is one of the best pitchers in the game.
When he is healthy and right, there probably aren’t five better pitchers in the whole league.
And fans want to see star players every time they go to the stadium: it’s simple.
Keeping Bieber around for the long term will give Guardians fans a reason to go to the stadium and see one of the best in the business do his thing.
Bieber is a very important piece on the roster, especially now that the franchise is adopting a new name and identity.
Having Bieber around means that the Guardians will be competitive: they may or may not be able to make it all the way into October, but they will at least have a shot with their ace pitching every five days.
2. They Have To Try Eventually
The Guardians are a small market team, which means that their contention windows aren’t as long as, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees.
However, when a player like Bieber comes along, a franchise has to at least try to keep him in the organization for as long as it can.
Cleveland has drafted, acquired, and developed a lot of top-notch starting pitchers over the years: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, Triston McKenzie, and Bieber are some recent examples.
The first four were traded when they approached free agency, for financial reasons.
However, they need to make things right and extend Bieber.
He has all the looks of a franchise player, he is still young at 26, and may have several seasons of excellent performance ahead of him.
At some point, Cleveland has to take some risks and go for it.
They haven’t won a World Series title since 1948, and fans are no longer content with a push to make the playoffs.
1. They Could Even Save Some Dollars While Remaining Competitive
If Cleveland goes year-by-year with their prized pitcher, they may end up spending more on Bieber than just signing him to an extension.
The problem is, of course, that the player’s camp obviously wants more than Cleveland is willing to pay; otherwise he would have signed by now.
But the year-by-year approach may end up being costly: Bieber is projected to make around $4.8 million in his first year of salary arbitration in 2022.
The number will considerably escalate in years two and three, and if he can keep pitching at his current level, he may ask more than $30 million or $35 million per season when he hits the open market.
If Cleveland can get him to sign an extension between $20 million and $30 million, back-loaded, and with an opt-out clause, it could be a win-win situation.
Bieber in the open market would surely command a $300 million contract, but since he would be signing an extension, Cleveland probably wouldn’t have to pay that much.
The player wants to stay.
Shane Bieber said he hasn’t yet had dialogue with Cleveland’s front office about a long-term extension, but he’d be open to it and hopes those conversations take place.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) February 22, 2021
The team should make it happen.