On Monday, October 29 first baseman Casey Kotchman and injury-riddled outfielder Grady Sizemore filed for free agency, formally ending their contractual obligations with the Cleveland Indians. Probability Kotchman and/or Sizemore could wear an Indians uniform in 2013 remains slim, according to The Plain Dealer's Tribe beat reporter Paul Hoynes. Still us fans will question, should Cleveland re-sign either player?
Heading into 2013 Cleveland Indians management must address first base. Last offseason they signed Casey Kotchman to a one-year, $3 million deal. Kotchman's slick fielding impressed many Clevelanders. Unfortunately his offense underwhelmed. He only hit .229 while collecting 12 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Moving on, injuries essentially led the Indians paying Grady Sizemore $5 million to rehab. The previous winter the Cleveland Indians decided to decline injury prone Sizemore's $9 million 2012 club option and instead re-sign him to a one-year, $5 million contract. Sizemore's new deal also included up to $4 million in incentives based off number of at-bats, an irrelevant factor in retrospect.
Enough now with the players recaps though. To logically determine whether the Tribe should re-sign either Kotchman or Sizemore let us speculate about salary costs and alternative options. Personally I don't see how Casey Kotchman can expect anything significantly higher than the $3 million he made in 2012. He doesn't possess the power most baseball people like first basemen to provide. Plus his batting average dropped from 2011 to 2012 by .077.
Admittedly I don't subscribe to the theory a team's power must come from the corner positions. However, I do think the Indians should allow Kotchman to go elsewhere. My objection to re-signing the first baseman stems from the fact he hits left-handed. Cleveland unsuccessfully tried an all-lefty approach in 2012. For 2013 I'd rather see the Tribe incorporate some right-handed bats into the daily lineup.
If the Indians can't find a right-handed hitting first baseman via trade or free agency, I say give Russ Canzler a shot. Canzler enjoyed his first extended look at the big league level this past September, playing in 26 games and batting .269 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. I'm very interested in watching what statistics Canzler could put up throughout a full MLB season.
Sure, judging by Canzler's playing time the Cleveland Indians brass seem to prefer him in left field, bringing us back to former gold glove center fielder Grady Sizemore. Whereas health woes forced Sizemore to a season long DL stint in 2012, outfielder Michael Brantley used the year to establish himself as the Tribe's unquestionable center fielder.
Conversely nothing but questions exists whether Grady Sizemore can get healthy and play left field next season. Bottom line, you can't assume he might play in 2013. Therefore the Cleveland Indians should offer Grady Sizemore nothing beyond a bare minimum minor-league contract. Quite honestly even then you risk overpaying.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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- Grady Sizemore
- Casey Kotchman