The Indians finalized a one-year deal with Grady Sizemore; a deal that has been anticipated for several days. His agent, Joe Urbon, said that he sought a deal with the Indians and had pulled away from discussions with other teams.
Sizemore’s option would have earned him $9 million in 2012, but the Indians declined the option and paid him a $500,000 buyout. It’s reported that the new deal contains a $5 million base salary with $4 million available in plate incentives. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that the incentives do not begin to kick in until Sizemore reaches 450 plate appearances. Jon Morosi from Fox Sports said that Sizemore would earn a $500,000 bonus for winning comeback player of the year.
I think this is the kind of deal that could benefit both Sizemore and the Indians. He’s not going to reach 450 plate appearances unless he’s healthy, so the Indians aren’t spending the full $9 million if he ends up on the DL for a significant portion of the season. He gets to stay with a medical staff that he’s comfortable with, and with a solid comeback year could set himself up for a multi-year deal following the 2012 season.
The only thing that concerns me – if Sizemore is injured for a significant portion of the year, what do the Indians do for a backup? Will 2012 be like 2011, where the Indians saw a revolving door of outfielders trying to fill in for injured regulars? Are the Indians counting on Sizemore for a significant number of at-bats, without a backup plan? Even if Sizemore has a great year, he would likely be priced beyond what the Indians can afford in 2013. Shin-Soo Choo becomes a free agent in the relatively near future as well – what are the Indians future plans for the outfield? I hate to be negative about it, but I know that they likely won’t be able to pay a healthy Sizemore and Choo what other teams will be willing to pay.
One thing I should mention – I went to a “Chalk Talk” at Progressive Field last night that included broadcasters Matt Underwood and Jim Rosenhaus. (I’ll have another post later with more of their discussion.) They mentioned that Jason Donald had spent some time in the outfield during the Arizona Fall League. Donald may be without a spot in the infield with a healthy Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lonnie Chisenhall. Would it be a disaster for him to move to the outfield (like Luis Valbuena or Ryan Garko), or would he successfully make the switch and be a viable outfield backup candidate?
As a side note: I should mention that I have a “baseball room” at my house with different kinds of baseball pictures, memorabilia, etc. I had this life-size Grady Sizemore banner for about 2 years that I never got around to hanging up. I finally hang it up, and the Indians decline his option. At least now it looks a little less crazy!