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Indians exploring extension options with Kipnis

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- General manager Chris Antonetti has maintained that the Indians have interest in discussing a contract extension with All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. That process appears to be underway this spring.

The Tribe initiated long-term talks with Kipnis prior to last season and has reportedly raised the idea again recently with the second baseman. During Monday's workout, Antonetti declined to delve into any details.

"For a lot of reasons, we'll stay consistent with not commenting on specifics of any negotiations," Antonetti said. "But I can tell you how much we obviously value and appreciate Kip, and we're always open to guys being here longer than shorter."

Cleveland backed up that kind of talk earlier this spring, when the club inked left fielder Michael Brantley to a four-year deal worth $25 million that includes a fifth-year option worth $11 million for 2018. That deal bought out all three of Brantley's arbitration years and at least his first year of free-agent eligibility.

Kipnis, 26, will not be eligible for arbitration until next winter, meaning he is under team control through the 2017 season. If the Indians were to lock Kipnis in with an extension, it would likely be structured similar to Brantley's deal.

Kipnis declined comment on Monday, but he has made it clear in the past that he is open to discussing a multi-year deal during Spring Training.

"Why would I not listen?" Kipnis said after new of Brantley's contract broke. "Yeah, I'm open to hearing what they have to say or what they have to offer. It'd be stupid not to. ... [Once] spring starts flowing along, we'll start talking again."

Last season, Kipnis made his first All-Star team and ended the season with a .284/.366/.452 slash line, piling up 17 home runs, 36 doubles, four triples, 84 RBIs, 30 stolen bases, 76 walks and 86 runs scored in 149 games. In parts of three seasons with Cleveland, Kipnis has fashioned a .270/.349/.424 line in 337 games.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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