CLEVELAND -- The average baseball fan might not think of Cody Allen when asked to name some of the elite relievers. Allen has been an under-the-radar closer for the Indians, but has quietly established himself as one of the best.
On Friday, Cleveland avoided arbitration with Allen, who received a one-year contract worth $4.15 million in his first offseason of eligibility. The Indians also reached one-year contracts with their three other arbitration-eligible players: Lonnie Chisenhall ($2.725 million), Jeff Manship ($765,000) and Josh Tomlin ($2.25 million).
"We are really pleased to have reached agreements on all six of our arbitration- eligible players," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said. "We look forward to the 2016 season and to the roles each of these guys will play on our team this year."
Allen will return as the anchor of Cleveland's bullpen.
"He's right there with all those [top relievers]," Indians manager Terry Francona said at the end of last season. "He's at his best when the game's on the line."
Allen, 27, saved 34 games last season and finished the year with the highest WAR (2.6) among Major League relievers, according to Fangraphs.com. The elite Yankees duo of Aroldis Chapman (2.5) and Dellin Betances (2.4) were the next two names on that list last season.
In 70 appearances, Allen turned in a 2.99 ERA and recorded 99 strikeouts compared to 25 walks in 69 1/3 innings. In each of the past three years, Allen has logged at least 69 innings and 70 games, while piling up 60 saves, posting a 2.49 ERA and registering 12 strikeouts per nine innings overall in that time period.
Looking back at his year at the end of the 2015 season, Allen was quick to point out his early struggles. He was conservative with his Spring Training approach and then posted a 9.00 ERA over his first dozen regular-season outings.
"I don't want to slow play anything," Allen said. "I want to get ready for Opening Day. I want to be ready Opening Day. I felt like maybe this season, I didn't quite feel ready to go. I think some of it was kind of on me. I felt like maybe I didn't put myself in the best spot to succeed right off the bat.
"We were trying to think of September and October going into it, but the last couple years, we've gotten off to a slow start and had to dig ourselves out of some holes. We'll be smart about it."
While Allen -- selected by the Indians in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft -- only signed a one-year deal, the club has discussed a longer extension in the past. At the end of the season, he said he was open to the concept.
"I would absolutely love to," Allen said. "We have a great staff here, a great group of guys. The city of Cleveland's treated me very well, so I would love to play here for a very, very long time. If that opportunity presents itself, I'd definitely be open to it."
Chisenhall, who projects to be the Opening Day right fielder, logged an American League-best 11 Defensive Runs Saved in only 354 1/3 innings in right last year. Overall, Chisenhall his .246 with a .667 OPS in 106 games, but he posted a .288 average (.756 OPS) in the second half.
Manship had a 6.46 ERA in parts of six seasons before joining Cleveland on a Minor League deal last winter, then fashioned a 0.92 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in 39 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Among all Major League relievers with at least 30 innings, Manship led the way in ERA.
Tomlin, who earned a $1.5 million salary in arbitration last year, is coming off a 10-start showing in which he went 7-2 with a 3.02 ERA. The pitcher returned from right shoulder surgery last summer and also missed time in 2012-13 due to Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. Tomlin, Cleveland's longest-tenured player, has gone 36-30 with a 4.65 ERA in 95 career games.