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Grady’s Return Best Move For Sizemore, Probably Not Indians

| On 26, Nov 2011

“I just had a hard time letting go of Cleveland and saying goodbye.”

Those are the words of former heartthrob, All-Star, “once in a generation player,” and centerfielder Grady Sizemore. The former 30 home run, 30 stolen base player signed a one-year, $5 million contract, with incentives that could earn him another $4 million, on Wednesday making his Thanksgiving quite thankful.

Sizemore should be as thankful as anyone this morning because despite rumors for the last month that every team who was even remotely a contender was interested in his services, none seemed to be ready to pony up the dough when it was time to talk contract with the often injured outfielder. The Cubs, Phillies and Rockies were supposedly the teams most after Sizemore, in addition the Indians. None of them were willing to let him play centerfield.

The Cubs and Rockies were both sub-.500 teams last season and each look to be in long term rebuilding processes. The Phillies were looking for a player to platoon with young, prospect, Domonic Brown. Hardly the long list of offers we had heard bandied about since the Indians seemed to have broken ties with Sizemore when they elected to decline his $9 million option in late October.

Sizemore said during a conference call on Wednesday that part of the allure of returning to Cleveland was the chance to play centerfield. Considering it was the only place willing to give him the chance to play nearly every day and in centerfield, I’m sure it was. You can’t prove to the rest of baseball that you are healthy and the “once of a generation player,” while platooning.

The only difference in 2012 from prior seasons is that each side has something to prove. Sizemore has the chance to play every day, prove he is healthy and earn the salary he was once promised. He’ll earn a $250,000 bonus when he reaches 450 and 475 plate appearances. He’ll earn another $500,000 for every 25 plate appearances after 475.

The Tribe will hope a healthy Sizemore re-finds his swing, meets many of those incentives and both parties return to their 2007 prowess, all while lowering their risk. Certainly the team has invested less than they had to a month ago to hopefully receive the same production. But if he doesn’t produce, the Indians are out another $5 million investment. If he does produce, the Tribe will hope they find themselves in contention, with a full Progressive Field to pay the star.

If Sizemore returns to his 2007 dominance, and his contract expires at season end, it is safe to assume all those teams who are afraid to take a gamble on him now will be lining up to offer lucrative deals. Do you think he will still not be able to say goodbye to Cleveland? It might be at a lower price, but the Indians still find themselves with everything to lose and Grady Sizemore with everything to gain.

Grady Sizemore got himself the best opportunity to play and the best opportunity to get paid in 2012 with the Indians. He also got himself the best opportunity to get paid past 2012, too bad if the Indians want him next October, he probably won’t want Cleveland back.

Photo: Getty Images

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