The Indians decided against tendering Marson a contract for the 2014 season, making the catcher a free agent this offseason. The Tribe did tender contracts to six of its nine arbitration-eligible players, a list that includes Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, Drew Stubbs, Marc Rzepczynski, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin. Cleveland avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood with one-year contracts. Herrmann and Wood will each earn $560,000 with the Indians in 2014.
The deadline for tendering 2014 contracts to any unsigned members of a 40-man roster was 11:59 p.m. ET Monday. The Indians also non-tendered journeyman outfielder Matt Carson and right-hander Tyler Cloyd, who was designated for assignment on Nov. 25 to clear a spot on the roster for recently signed outfielder David Murphy.
Cleveland, which now has 38 players on its 40-man roster, has interest in possibly re-signing Marson on a Minor League contract that would include an invitation to Spring Training.
The 27-year-old Marson served as Cleveland's primary backup catcher from 2010-12, hitting .216 with a .594 on-base plus slugging percentage across 236 games. Marson's primary skills come on defense, where he is lauded for his game calling and ability to control the running game. Marson struggled in the latter area over the past two years due to a right shoulder issue that ultimately sidelined him in 2013.
Marson first landed on the disabled list in early April after suffering neck strain during a home-plate collision with Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings on April 6. The catcher rejoined the Indians later in the month, but was shelved with the right shoulder injury on April 28. In all, Marson appeared in only three games (five plate appearances) for Cleveland last season.
While Marson was on the DL, Gomes stepped up admirably, hitting .294 with 11 home runs, 31 extra-base hits and 38 RBIs in 88 games for the Indians. By the second half, Gomes took over as the Indians' starter behind the plate, forcing Carlos Santana into a role that included rotating between first base, designated hitter and catcher.
The 32-year-old Carson -- a veteran of 12 professional seasons -- spent 20 games with the Indians last season, working mostly as a defensive replacement or pinch hitter. In 11 at-bats, he hit .636 for Cleveland and provided one of the season's highlights. On Sept. 19, Carson delivered an RBI single to right field in the 11th inning to give the Indians a 2-1, walk-off victory over the Astros.
Herrmann and Wood -- both working their way back from Tommy John surgery on their right elbow -- will be in camp this spring as part of Cleveland's bullpen competition. Herrmann, who worked in 95 games between the 2010-12 seasons for the Tribe, missed all of last year. The hard-throwing Wood (3.75 ERA in 55 games for the Royals in 2011) sat out '12 and appeared in two games for the Indians last season.
Eligible players who are tendered contracts must file for arbitration by Jan. 14, and the two sides would then exchange salary proposals by Jan. 17. If an arbitration case remains unsettled, the salary would be determined one of the hearings that run from Feb. 1-21. Teams can reach an agreement with its arbitration players at any point prior to a scheduled hearing.
According to arbitration salary projections by MLBTradeRumors.com, Masterson ($9.7 million) would be in line for the largest 2014 salary among Cleveland's eligible players, followed by Stubbs ($3.8 million), Brantley ($3.7 million), Rzepczynski ($1.4 million), Pestano ($1.3 million) and Tomlin ($1.1 million).
The Indians have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1991, when the club did so with both Greg Swindell and Jerry Browne.