Justin Masterson

Last starter standing: Justin Masterson won't let contract uncertainty change approach

Rob Bradford
April 08, 2015 - 8:12 am

PHILADELPHIA -- Now that Rick Porcello is locked up for four years beyond 2015, the majority of the Red Sox starting rotation certainly looks like it will be around for a while. Thanks to two team options, Clay Buchholz is under club control through 2017. Newly signed Wade Miley's final club option is for the '18 season. And Joe Kelly is heading into his first year of arbitration eligibility. That leaves Justin Masterson. The 30-year-old is slated to become eligible for free agency for a second straight offseason, currently playing under a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Red Sox for '15. But even though he is now the only Red Sox starter to find himself in a contract year, don't expect any of the kind of drama that often resides with such dynamic. Masterson has gone through this before, and he's fully ready to experience it one more time. "I think it's based on the person," Masterson said of how such a dynamic might affect someone in his position. "I think we all have different personalities. That was never even a concern for me. My time is my time, if it's not, we'll do something else." Heading into 2014, there was some thought that Masterson would be living the life of a pitcher primed for a huge payday. But after he experienced physical issues from the first day of spring training, contributing to a dip in velocity and effectiveness, the Indians' only offer was for two years. Predictably, Masterson turned it down. "It can affect people when they do that, but it's also an easy out if a guy struggles or something happens to say, 'That's affecting him.' It may or my not be. But that's always an easy out when those things happen," Masterson said of playing in a contract year. "Like last year for me, people saying, 'The contract stuff must be affecting him.' That didn't feel good. You get that all the time. 'You should have taken it.' No. I would have actually felt worse if I had taken it because I knew I wasn't feeling good. I just think it's based off the person. But for some people it can make it hard to play." Masterson clearly is secure in his lot in life. The righty has progressed well throughout spring training, lining up to get the start Thursday against the Phillies. And while Masterson is entering this contract year in a similar frame of mind as a year ago, there is one significant change in his world. "The difference is that I feel better," he said. "The same sentiment I had last year, playing hard and wanting to do well for my teammates, carries over to this year. Yeah, there's something afterwards, but I want to do well because I care about these guys. We do our part and we win games. You do your part, everybody works hard, those riches, glory or whatever might come, comes later."