It’s been a whirlwind day of baseball news, starting with Tony La Russa’s resignation, and continuing with the re-hiring of Davey Johnson by the Nationals, the trade of Derek Lowe by the Braves to the Indians, and whole bunch of players becoming free agents by virtue of their team not picking up their 2012 option (it’s all covered well here). Then there was David Aardsma, the Mariners’ reliever who became a free agent when he was outrighted by the M’s.
Among the players who became free agents today by virtue of having their options declined are Aaron Cook, Aaron Harang, Yuniesky Betancourt, Paul Maholm, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Cedeno, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Rauch, Francisco Cordero, Dan Wheeler, Scott Atchison, Nate McLouth, and Kelly Shoppach.
And Grady Sizemore, who would figure to inspire the most interest from the Mariners. It was little surprise that the Indians chose to decline Sizemore’s $9 million contract option for 2012, considering he has had five operations (left elbow, left groin, left knee, left groin, right knee) over the past three years that have limited him to 210 games. But it also won’t be surprising for numerous teams to make a run at Sizemore, who at age 29 is young enough to regain the form that saw him make three All-Star teams. He’s a natural target for Seattle, who need exactly what a healthy Sizemore can bring — a left-hander with power and production. He played center field in Cleveland but it’s easy to envision him playing left in Seattle, reducing the stress on his body.
With Sizemore, the interest could be mutual. Sizemore was born in Seattle, attended Cascade High School in Everett, and was once recruited to play football for the Huskies. Not only are his local roots strong, but he played his formative years for Cleveland under manager Eric Wedge, who has always been effusive in his praise for Sizemore. The respect between the two goes both ways.
Then again, Buster Olney of ESPN noted that “it would help Sizemore to walk into a situation where he could be a complimentary player surrounded by other good hitters in a good hitters’ park.” That doesn’t sound too much like the Mariners’ current situation.
I talked today to Sizemore’s agent, Joe Urbon, who plans to fly to Arizona to sit down with Sizemore tomorrow (Tuesday). He said it’s too early to discuss which teams might interest his client.
“We have a number of things to go over,” he said. “This is the first time he can become a free agent, so it’s all new to him. We’ll talk about the process and the time line and put everything in perspective. We need to do our due diligence before we start speculating on what team and position is the best fit.”
Urbon added, “More than anything, we’re looking for the best opportunity to show he’s healthy and back to be being an elite player.”
Urbon said he expects Sizemore to be fully recovered by spring training from his latest operation on Oct. 3, an arthroscopic procedure on his knee. “Things are going as planned,” he said.
Urbon didn’t get into contract parameters, but Olney speculates that Sizemore might be willing to take a one-year deal. If he proves he’s back as a top-flight player, he would hit the free agent market again next year at age 30 in a strong position to get a nice multi-year contract.
Signing Sizemore would certainly be a risk for any team, considering his health issues, but it’s one with a high potential upside.