It’s not official until a contract is signed, but it looks like the Indians definitely want Jason Giambi to return to the club for the 2014 season. According to Jordan Bastian of, Indians manager Terry Francona was recently quoted as saying “We would like to continue our relationship with G[iambi] probably as long as he would like to.”

Giambi will become a free agent over the winter. In January he will be 43 years old. If Giambi returns as a player, he will be the oldest player in the major leagues. Relief pitchers Mariano Rivera of the Yankees and Darren Oliver of the Blue Jays were the only two players older than Giambi in the 2013 season, and both men have announced their retirement from the game (you may have heard something about Rivera’s retirement; I think there was something about it in the newspapers).

Of course, being a free agent, Giambi could theoretically sign with any of the other 29 MLB clubs. But since he can no longer be used as anything other than a DH or a pinch-hitter, it’s unlikely that a National League team would have any interest in signing him. And thanks to the platonic bromance that he and Francona developed this past season, all indications are that Giambi would love to return to the Indians.

I certainly understand Giambi’s value to the team in 2013. He provided veteran leadership to a team that was in sore need of it, and despite his meager .183 batting average, he did bang out nine home runs in 186 at-bats, including the ninth-inning pinch-hit homer against the White Sox in the final week of the regular season.

There is a part of me which instinctively rebels at the notion of all but promising a roster spot to a man of that age, a man who can’t play in the field. Too many times I’ve seen the Indians give too many at-bats to too many over-the-hill sluggers, thereby denying at-bats and a spot on the roster to men less than half Giambi’s age.

I recently discussed this issue in an online chat with my fellow IPL writer Adam Hintz. Adam is in favor of having Giambi return in 2014. Adam contends that with a full offseason of conditioning, and with knowing that his roster spot is safe, Giambi will likely report to spring training in better shape than in 2013. Correctly guessing that a man of my age (to me, Giambi’s almost a kid) knows very little about sports-themed video games, Adam explained: “Players have a contact and power rating, but they also have an awareness or an eye or a clutch rating, which makes it easier to time your swing, get a big hit, etc. Giambi’s contact is gone, and his power is fading, but he’s like a 99 in those intangible ratings. And whie the guy who might get that [25th] roster spot from AAA would have a higher contact/power rating, there was just an undeniable QUALITY to most of Giambi’s high-pressure at-bats that you can’t pull off the street.” And if Giambi’s age finally catches up with him, and he can no longer contribute to the team the way he did in 2013, Adam believes that Giambi, a proud man, would retire in mid-season rather than embarrass himself and the club.

What do you think? Please feel free to comment.


  • medfest says:

    Since they won’t have much money to spend on FAs and what they have will probably go into the pitching staff,Giambi is a cheap addition with known positive qualities.

    If they decide to spend some money, signing Jason Kubel could be a relatively cheap and younger alternative to fill the LH DH role.I believe that’s why they brought him in for an end of the season audition.

  • Cale says:

    To me, Giambi should be a “plan B”, not a priority. If you can get that power hitter that is sorely needed for the middle of the lineup and that costs Giambi his spot in the dugout, so be it. If they don’t have the money to spend, or spend it on locking up Ubaldo and Kazmir, then I like Giambi as a end of the bench and clubhouse guy.

    Akron Beacon Journal reports that the Indians might have some money to spend in free agency.

    • Sean Porter says:

      I’d love to have Giambi back – even if I’d prefer he was a coach, not a player. While his BA was nothing to sneeze at, we Tribe fans who watched him play all season saw a ton of quality at bats. I always felt confident that he’d do something positive. I do wonder, though, if perhaps he might be running on fumes.

      I have this nagging feeling that the Indians won’t be players in free agency this season. There’s salary increases throughout the roster, a few young players the Tribe would probably like to take care of (Masterson, Kipnis?) and the dreaded: “We scored the 4th amount of runs last year in the A.L. and most of our players didn’t exceed expectations…”

      The Dolans/Shapiro/Antonetti have trotted out the “we don’t need to add to this roster, all we need is for it to perform to its expectations” before in the past. Very quiet offseasons followed. The 2013 Indians were a good team obviously, but a flawed one. A team that needs more to be in the Tigers class.

      • medfest says:

        I did an estimate(my best guess for arbitration salaries) for the Tribe’s 2014 payroll(Cot’s Baseball Contracts)and with all the FAs gone and Perez kept, they’ll be sitting around 80 million in payroll.
        Even with increased revenue they didn’t draw more than 1.6 million in attendance.I can’t see them spending anything unless payroll is subtracted.

    • Swift says:

      Yes; I agree he should be a Plan B. And if he doesn’t make the team as a player, I’d love to see him offered a position in the organization, maybe in the player development role.

  • Vincent says:

    G should be brought back, he is good for us even more so in the locker room than on the field. It’s like keeping an old sage around to inspire young guys, empty his tank of baseball in Cleveland and we will see the effects for season to come if we do it right.


  • D.P. Roberts says:

    I also agree that Giambi will probably retire if he no longer feels like he’s productive.

    But when will he get that “feeling”? He clearly hit some clutch home runs throughout the season. That has to give him a productive feeling.

    You’d think that anybody who hit under .200 would not feel productive. 9 home runs, only 34 hits all season (about 1 hit every other game in which he appeared).

    But, as Francona said, he’s not there to hit for average, he’s there to get clutch hits. If 9 home runs is enough, how far below 9 does he have to get? Is 5 home runs enough? 3?

    If 34 hits throughout the season is enough, that’s only 17 or so by the All-Star break. Will he retire if he only has, say, a dozen hits by the break?

  • Gvl Steve says:

    Giambi made significant contributions to the team this year, but I like him better next year as a coach than as a player. As the saying goes, think with your head, not your heart.

    • Cale says:

      Couldn’t agree more. It’s tough to use one of your valuable 25 man roster spots for someone you know you’re only going to give 180 ABs. He did have a -.5 WAR this year.

  • Donnie says:

    My wife and I say HELL YES!!!!!!!!!!