HOUSTON -- Locking up core talent to long-term deals has long been a staple of the Indians' approach. Without the resources to routinely win bidding wars in free agency, Cleveland has placed a high priority on securing young players with multi-year pacts.
Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti has continued that trend over the past few years.
"It's not as easy as it looks," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Because of the other teams out there and the pay structures and things like that, we have to do things that work for us. We can't be the trendsetters -- we know that. Chris has had to work probably doubly hard to find ways to make it work."
The Indians did it again on Sunday, signing ace Corey Kluber to a five-year, $38.5 million extension that includes a pair of club options. The Tribe is also in talks with pitcher Carlos Carrasco on a similar extension, which could be announced soon.
"What these deals do is they allow us to plan for how we build our roster," Antonetti said. "It takes out the uncertainty of what players may earn throughout the arbitration process and that certianly allows us to plan better. But, it's only helpful if we end up betting on the right guys."
Here is a glance at current Indians players who have signed long-term deals prior to free agency:
• Carlos Santana: On April 10, 2012, Santana signed a five-year pact worth around $21 million. The deal includes a team option that can keep the first baseman in the fold through 2017. At the time, Santana was a catcher, and it marked the largest deal ever handed to a catcher in his pre-arbitration years.
• Michael Brantley: On Feb. 10, 2014, Brantley signed a four-year deal worth $25 million, skipping what would have been his first year of arbitration eligibility. The pact also bought out one year of free agency and includes a team option for 2018 for the All-Star left fielder.
• Yan Gomes: On March 30 last year, Gomes penned his name on a six-year extension worth $23 million. His deal, which surpassed Santana's as the biggest contract ever handed to a catcher in his pre-arbitration years, includes team options for the 2020 and '21 seasons.
• Jason Kipnis: On April 4 last season, Kipnis capitalized on an All-Star showing in the previous season with a six-year, $52.5-million extension while still in his pre-arbitration years. The second baseman's deal includes a club option for the 2020 season.
• Kluber: The five-year deal signed Sunday by the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner represents the largest contract ever handed to a pitcher in his pre-arbitration years. The pact has a maximum value of $77 million and has club options for '20 and '21.