Hot on the heels of the Yan Gomes extension, the Indians today announced that they locked up another member of their Wild Card core from 2013, signing former MVP Jason Giambi to a lucrative 4-year deal that will keep the slugger with the team until his Social Security benefits start to kick in.
Exact details of the contract extension have not been disclosed by the team, but sources indicate the deal will pay Giambi north of $9 million per season.
When reached for comment, Indians manager Terry Francona was effusive with his praise of Giambi: “It’s really hard to quantify the many things that the G-man brings to this team — he’s a great clubhouse guy, he always holds the door open for little old ladies when we’re on the road, and he has that MVP pedigree that this team so desperately needs. I couldn’t be happier for the guy, and I know this deal will have the team pointed in the right direction for years to come.”
Earlier this morning, General Manager Chris Antonetti responded to critics who said this deal would prevent the team from extending Justin Masterson or Jason Kipnis: “I hear those voices, and I just want to say right now that there is some truth to that line of thinking — we are a small market team and we can’t afford to lock up every player that we might want to. Jason was really a priority for this team, and I’m glad that I can sit here and tell you that he will be a Cleveland Indian for the next four years. Justin and Jason understand that this is a business and that they had their chances during Spring Training. We had to move forward as an organization and lock up our future while we could.”
The deal does come as a small surprise, if only because of the relative cheapness of the contract. Mike Trout, for instance, has fewer MVP awards than Giambi, and yet will make north of $20 million per season when his new extension kicks in. Seattle has to be kicking themselves right now, too, as they just handed $240 million to a guy in Robinson Cano who has never finished higher than third in the MVP voting. Viewed in the context of MVP awards, the Indians got a steal with this Giambi extension.
What does the man himself have to say about this new deal? In a brief statement following Monday’s win, Giambi appeared thrilled, “I’m really excited; I’ll finally be able to buy that new rocking chair for my porch. I’ll be yelling at those no-good neighborhood kids to get off my lawn in style!” Jason continued with an anecdote about “the good old days” when runners had to walk 15 miles (uphill! In the snow!) just to get to first base before nodding off at his locker watching old reruns of Matlock.
Obviously, this move makes the Indians instant World Series contenders, quelling a lot of the contract uncertainty swirling around the team. Go Tribe!