Shane Bieber pitched his fourth-straight quality start in Cleveland’s 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last weekend, going seven innings and giving up two runs on eight hits, striking out six and walking none.
Perhaps best of all, Bieber’s much-talked-about drop in velocity has seemingly begun to return, as he averaged 93 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball during the day, an increase of about two miles per hour from his season mark. Bieber has been working on his mechanics and throwing motion in-season, and if he’s unlocked a form and rhythm that adds even that much life on his fastball… well, watch out.
That being said, Bieber’s season ERA is now down to 3.18, and in 22 starts this year, he has a 122 ERA+, 2.80 FIP, and continues to pitch solidly and so very dependably, if not at an earth-shattering level.
Which, hey, is fine, and might honestly open the door just a crack to the possibility of Bieber signing a contract extension with the Guardians, who are on the cusp of what could be a very fun and fruitful contention window.
Could the Guardians Pull Off a Shane Bieber Extension?
If there’s even a small chance a deal could get done, Cleveland needs to do everything in its power to do it.
It’s quite unlikely anything would happen as the season reaches its most intense point down the stretch, but if Bieber is willing to listen, the Guardians should make it a priority in the offseason to try to get a deal done. Locking Bieber into the rotation for years to come while the rest of the organization’s young pitching develops will be key to remaining competitive over the next 3-5 seasons.
He is currently under team control for two more seasons through arbitration, so while there might not be a big rush per se, if Bieber puts together yet another solid year in 2023, it would likely become that much harder to sign him.
So what could a deal look like for Bieber? Let’s say the Guardians offer him $125 million over five years, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration and his first three seasons of free agency. That would get Bieber to his age-32 season, where he’d be likely be able to get one more contract to finish out his career, assuming he continues to chug along at the pace he’s on.
But for a guy who no longer throws the exceptionally hard stuff and has already had one shoulder scare, it’s a deal that provides stability on both sides, and allows Bieber to remain the veteran ace on a team that will continue to be laden with young – but unproven – pitching talent.
Cleveland is no doubt interested in giving Bieber an extension, and has reportedly already offered a new deal to him multiple times. But that was prior to his shoulder troubles in 2021 and the peculiar drop in velocity. Though his numbers certainly haven’t suffered that much in the wake of trying to essentially reinvent himself as a pitcher, Bieber might be more willing to listen at this point.
It sure doesn’t hurt that the Guardians are now poised to be good for years to come.