The Cleveland Guardians can’t actually make any transactions with MLB’s work stoppage in full swing.
That said, when the union and owners resolve things, the Guardians may feel the pressure to get a contract extension done with Shane Bieber.
And unfortunately, the Guardians may be running out of time.
Bieber is entering his first year of arbitration, and the worry is that the closer he gets to free agency, the more unlikely it is a deal gets done.
The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd tackled Bieber’s contract in a recent mailbag, and the veteran writer expressed concern.
"“Where’s his incentive to give up years of team control when he’s inching closer and closer to free agency? If the Guardians can’t get something done with him this offseason, I’m not sure they’ll get another opportunity.”"
Lloyd also speculated Bieber could earn around $4 million in arbitration, and if he pitches like we expect him to, the number is going to continue to rise in 2023 and 2024.
Bieber was excellent early last season, but then his season was derailed by an injury. He was able to return in late September, which was huge for his offseason as for as training.
The point is that Bieber got hurt. If he gets hurt again, his stock is going to sink. Perhaps he bets on himself. Players do it all the time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
The Guards are rumored to be closing in on a minority owner, but even if the Dolans get an influx of cash, I doubt they make a crazy offer to the 2020 Cy Young Award winner.
The Guardians make pitches like Lake Erie produces lake effect snow. Everything about this franchise tells me they’re going to look for the next Shane Bieber from within their organization, and not overpay someone who, if he gets hurt, will cripple the franchise financially.
Remember, Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff have been around Cleveland for a while. They saw Jake Westbrook sign an three-year, $33 million extension in April of 2007. They saw him him pitch just five games in 2008.
It’d be great to keep Bieber around, but Lloyd’s right. If it doesn’t get done before the start of the 2022 season (if there is one), then the Bieber trade rumors will fire up.
If this team can deal Francisco Lindor, then it can trade Bieber.