The Indians have some tough decisions to make this offseason. The one on Carlos Carrasco was simple.
Cleveland picked up its $9.75 million contract option for next season on the right-hander, who has developed into one of the AL’s most consistent and dominating pitchers over the past few years.
The team declined its $3 million option for 2019 on outfielder Brandon Guyer, who battled through injuries last season. He’ll get a $250,000 buyout and become a free agent. It’s very possible he’ll re-sign with the Indians, who value what he brings on and off the field.
The 31-year-old Carrasco went 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts last season for the AL Central champions. He also recorded a team-high 231 strikeouts in 192 innings as the Indians became the first team in baseball history to have four pitchers top the 200-strikeout plateau.
The team has another option for 2020 on the right-hander, who has gone 35-16 with a 3.33 ERA over the past two seasons.
“We believe Carlos has established himself as one of the top starters in the American League and has been a contributor to our team over the last few seasons,” team president Chris Antonetti said. “So, we’re obviously elated to continue his time with the team and the organization, and we expect him to make a big impact on our team for the next few seasons.”
Carrasco is one of just four pitchers in club history to surpass 200 strikeouts three times.
The Indians are expected to have their entire rotation — Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber — back next season.
Guyer, 32, batted .206 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 103 games. He joined the Indians in 2016, coming over in a mid-season trade from Tampa Bay.
Antonetti said the decision on Guyer was “very difficult” but there is mutual interest in him coming back.
“Where we ended is that we thought we would be best declining the option, leaving the door open to bring Brandon back, but maybe under potentially different terms,” Antonetti said. “He’s been a contributing member of our team for the last two and a half seasons and has made a very big impact at times. He battled through some injuries.
“When he was healthy, we saw a guy that was capable of impacting our team and hitting in the middle of the order against left-handed pitching.”
Guyer joins a long list of Indians free agents, which include closer Cody Allen, outfielders, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall and Rajai Davis and relievers Andrew Miller and Oliver Perez.
Cleveland has exclusive negotiating rights with its free agents until Friday, which is also the deadline for extend one-year qualifying offers ($17.9 million) to any free agents in order to potentially get draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere.