I’ve heard a lot of different comments today in regards to the options on Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona. Some in agreement, some that disagree…it seems like a lot of people hesitate to turn Sizemore loose, and there are those who don’t really want to give Carmona another chance.
I figured it was a good opportunity to take a different look at the situation. On this blog, we’ve looked at the abilities and history of both players and given our opinions on what we would do in Chris Antonetti’s shoes. We haven’t really taken a good look at the actual contracts themselves and the numbers involved.
First of all, with Sizemore – just because the Indians didn’t pick up his option, doesn’t mean he won’t be with the team in 2012. Yes, it makes it less likely he will return…but it does not rule it out. At $9 million, that’s a rather sizeable chunk of the Indians’ meager budget. Last year, the Tribe’s budget was $48,339,167, ranked 26 out of 30. I’ve seen no indication that they plan to raise that significantly this offseason. If you pay Sizemore $9 million, that makes him the second highest paid person on the team (behind Travis Hafner at $13 million, another pretty bad contract). He’d make about 19% of the Tribe’s total budget in 2012 if he returns at that rate (obviously saying that the budget doesn’t rise at all).
The Indians have until 12:01 a.m. Thursday to negotiate exclusively with Sizemore. After that, he can negotiate with any Major League team. If the Indians can convince him to return for a low base salary with a ton of incentives, it would be a good deal. Unfortunately, when you’re a low budget team like the Indians, you can’t take a risk on a player like Sizemore at that price. Another team may be more willing to do so…but there is a slight chance nobody bites and Sizemore remains in Cleveland. Supposedly, the Indians never planned to bring him back beyond 2012 season, instead preferring to let him enter free agency. So this was, at best, likely Sizemore’s last year in Cleveland anyway. Whatever happens, I hope for the best for Sizemore. He was once a very exciting player and I hope he can recapture that, whether it’s here in Cleveland or somewhere else.
I’ve seen many people angered by the fact that Carmona’s option was picked up. This is understandable, since he’s been a pretty frustrating pitcher over the past few years. One thing I think many people forget; even if the Indians don’t pick up Carmona’s option, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s no longer with the team. Carmona is still under team control for the 2012 season since he doesn’t have enough service time to reach free agency. If the Indians decline this option, it means they’ll have to enter arbitration with Carmona. MLB’s arbiter could decide that Carmona is actually worth more than $7 million (they usually always advocate for a raise above the prior year’s salary, which was just shy of $6.3 million for Carmona). Plus if the Indians decline any of Carmona’s options between now and 2014, it automatically voids the remaining options. So if he had a comeback year in 2012, he’d be a free agent instead of having options for 2013 and 2014. They could designate him for assignment, but would obviously get nothing in return for that. There are supposedly teams that have expressed interest in Carmona; if nothing else, they could probably get something for him in a trade if the exercise the option and keep him around.
So when you look at these decisions from strictly a financial perspective, it makes sense.
A side note – I heard that Chris Antonetti personally flew to Arizona last week to tell Sizemore the news. I think that was a pretty nice gesture, even though they probably didn’t want to completely burn their bridges with Sizemore.