'Team-first' Allen will pitch in any inning

Reliever aware but not concerned about potential paycheck decrease

'Team-first' Allen will pitch in any inning

WASHINGTON -- The last thing that Cody Allen is worried about right now is how his willingness to pitch in any inning might impact his paycheck through arbitration. The Indians reliever wants to win and, if that means moving out of the closer's role for some games, that is fine by him.

One possible outcome of Allen's approach to his job could be fewer dollars earned via arbitration negotiations, based upon the potential drop in saves. The right-hander knows the monetary risk involved, but he also believes the increased understanding in other statistics, combined with the recent market trends for relievers, will play a larger role in his financial future.

"I think arbitrarily, it may hurt just a little bit," Allen said. "But, in terms of getting to free agency and how guys are getting paid, Kansas City, they reshaped the market. Look what Darren O'Day got. Ryan Madson was basically pitching the sixth and some in the seventh in Kansas City, and he was well compensated just for pitching really well in tight spots in those bridge innings.

"It's becoming less of a thing in terms of what guys are getting on the free-agent market. Arbitrarily, yeah, it can still ding you up a little bit, but not enough where I think guys are going to shake their head at it and not be happy with it."

In December 2015, O'Day received a four-year contract, worth $31 million, as a setup man. One year earlier, Indians lefty Andrew Miller -- acquired via trade from the Yankees at the non-waiver Trade Deadline -- signed a four-year pact valued at $36 million. Similar to Allen, Miller has floated between setting up and closing and has expressed a willingness to do either job. Madson was given a three-year, $22-million deal in December '15.

Allen said he has discussed the market landscape with his agent, and the right-hander is confident that his openness to being used in leverage-based situations will pay off in the long run.

"That was one thing we had talked about," Allen said. "He said, 'It's not going to hurt you.' If you want to talk about it from a selfish financial standpoint, he said, 'If you get into the postseason and you pitch well, you can help yourself out more than if you just stay in the ninth inning and you didn't pitch deep in the postseason."

Allen, 27, avoided arbitration with a one-year, $4.15-million contract with Cleveland last offseason and will be eligible for the same process for the next two winters. Generally speaking, arbitration or extension negotiations with relievers deal in a lot more than saves these days. Holds and inherited-runner numbers are more prevalent now, along with win probability and leverage index.

Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said Allen's assessment of the free-agent market for relievers was correct.

"I completely agree," Chernoff said, "More importantly, forget about arbitration. We are all focused on how we get to the playoffs and win the World Series. And I think it's pretty cool that Andrew Miller coming to a new team said, 'I don't care where I'm pitching.' And Cody Allen, before Andrew even got here, saw the market and said, 'I'll pitch in any spot.' That tells you what kind of people and teammates they are.

"It's hard to factor in 'teammate' into an arbitration hearing, but when he reaches free agency, 'teammate' is one of the top things that other teams are looking for and other GMs are looking for, or that we'd be looking for if we extend him. That has the potential to be a huge benefit for him. Teams see he's a team-first guy, not a me-first guy."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.