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Tribe Makes Safe Gambles With Sizemore and Carmona Options

| On 30, Oct 2011

The clock is still ticking on Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona, but according to’s Jordan Bastian midnight will arrive on Monday. Bastian reported Saturday evening that the Indians intend to exercise Carmona’s option and decline Sizemore’s. Both decisions are gambles, but the team definitely had to play each gamble as safe as possible.

It might be hard to believe Carmona’s option to be a bargain after going 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 2011, but according to several sources, if the Indians did not exercise the option, he would be arbitration eligible. If the Tribe wanted any chance to resign the right hander, they would have to offer arbitration. However, despite his putrid season, Carmona would garner more than the $7 million option if he was offered arbitration.

Carmona also has options for 2013 and 2014 that would be voided if the Indians let him hit the free agency market this year. The 2012 season could be a pivotal one for him, however. His 2013 ($ 9 million) and 2014 ($12 million) options escalate substantively. If he doesn’t have a much better 2012, it would be shocking to see the Tribe commit that amount of salary to Carmona, who has never found his dominance again after 2007.

Sizemore on the other hand will not receive one more year, like Carmona. The former star’s injuries have been chronicled extensively. Certainly the Indians decision came down to how confident they felt he could be healthy next season. After three injury riddled years, and decreased production, it just isn’t a $9 million gamble the middle market Indians can make with a projected payroll around $75 million for 2012.

If the Indians do announce they are declining Sizemore’s option on Monday, expect the organization to wave the idea of still trying to bring the slugger back to Cleveland with a smaller base salary and full of incentives, one that could earn him the $9 million he could have received if he had been healthy all along.

However, don’t be surprised that once Sizemore hits the free agent market that several big market teams are willing to gamble on the former star. The San Francisco Giants seem poised to make him an offer and Buster Olney tweeted this morning that the Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals would be suitable homes for the slugger.

All three teams will have much larger payrolls than the Indians in 2012. The Giants are regularly over the $100 million threshold and the Rangers will most likely join them next season while the Nationals will continue to build around their young nucleus and budding stars. When you have a $70-75 million payroll, gambling 12-15% of your available salary is tough. But if you have a larger payroll structure, gambling on a player dubbed, “once in a generation,” doesn’t seem so ludicrous. A healthy Sizemore could be a final piece for the Rangers, or the piece that raises the Giants or Nationals into the playoffs.

Each decision will be scrutinized through the 2012 season, but the Indians had little choice but to travel the route they did. If they were a team with a larger payroll, they may have been able to let Carmona walk to free agency and sign a more reliable starting pitcher for $10-13 million and keep Sizemore with the hope that he would find himself and return to the player he was once. Instead, the Tribe will hope to resurrect Carmona while Sizemore’s resurrection will most likely involve a change of scenery.

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