In parts of four seasons in MLB, Bieber has a 41-18 record and a 3.31 ERA in 497 innings, with a whopping 629 strikeouts.
His command is elite, and his knuckle-curve is one of MLB’s premier weapons, capable of making even the strongest hitters look foolish.
In 2021, Bieber is making near the league minimum, $679,700 to be precise.
However, he will enter the arbitration process next year, and will start to become expensive.
Cleveland should be smart to start looking at the possibility of an extension.
Shane Bieber said he hasn't had in-depth conversations with the Indians about a long-term contract extension, and suggested those talks will now be on hold until next offseason anyway. pic.twitter.com/fjjyhPcdvy
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 27, 2021
If possible, they should try to sign Bieber like they did with Jose Ramirez, way before his free agency years.
The issue here is they signed Ramirez to his extremely team-friendly 5-year, $26 million contract before he exploded as a top player, believing in his skills long-term.
Bieber, on the other hand, has already exploded.
A Truly Elite Pitcher
The right-hander is already a two-time All-Star, a Cy Young winner, a Triple Crown winner, and the owner of an ERA title.
8 wins, 1.63 ERA, 122 Ks. A Triple Crown for Shane Bieber.
Cleveland's ace was on another level. 👑 pic.twitter.com/a1ws1DPgHn
— MLB (@MLB) September 28, 2020
There will be no signing him on the cheap now.
Bieber’s debut season was mostly underwhelming (4.55 ERA in 114.2 frames) but there were signs of a breakout.
That breakout came in 2019, when he posted a 3.28 ERA in 214.1 innings, with an incredible 259 strikeouts.
Last year, he won every award you could possibly imagine, finishing with an 8-1 record, a 1.63 ERA, and 122 Ks in 77.1 frames.
This season, Bieber was also extremely good, but not utterly dominant like in 2020.
In 90.2 frames, he has a 3.28 ERA and 130 punchouts, before succumbing to a shoulder injury a few weeks ago.
He is expected back in late July or early August, so he will eventually return to keep adding to his numbers and aiding Cleveland in a bid for a Wild Card spot.
The question, for Cleveland, remains if they should sign him to an extension as soon as possible, or keep going year to year with him, knowing that his price will inevitably go up in arbitration.
Another question, however, would be whether Bieber is interested in signing a long-term contract to stay in Cleveland and ensure earning life-changing money now, or go with the risky, yet potentially richer year-to-year route.
What Would An Extension Look Like?
An extension could work out for both parties, but establishing his value could be a tricky proposition.
Bieber is easily a top-10 pitcher in MLB, and surely would like to be paid like one.
He isn’t in the open market, though, and the fact that he has three arbitration years that somewhat control what he earns makes it impossible for him to ask for a $180 million or $200 million type of deal.
As things stand, he could earn something like $8 million or $8.5 million in his first year of arbitration, since Dallas Keuchel currently holds the record for a first-time eligible pitcher with $7.25 million and Bieber is better than Keuchel at that time.
From that point, the remaining two arbitration years for Bieber could see him earning around $15 million in the first and $20 million in the last.
If Cleveland were to approach the 26-year-old Bieber with an extension, something around five years and $90 million or $100 million seems reasonable, back-loaded of course.