I never thought it'd come to this. I never thought that there would be a chance in hell that the Cleveland Indians could turn down Grady Sizemore's $8.5 million team option for 2012.
Yet, here we are. According to Ken Rosenthal, Grady needs to impress in the rest of 2011 or the Indians will seriously considering letting him go. Once hailed as our superstar of the future, we could be down to the final two weeks of Grady's Cleveland career.
How did we get here? From 2005-2008, Sizemore embarked on one of the most prestigious stretches a 22-25 year old has ever gone on. His stats from that period (averaged out to a single-season) are unbelievable thinking about how this year has gone:
2005-2008: .281/.372/.496 slash line, .868 OPS (128 OPS+), 27 HR, 81 RBI, 29 SB, 19.3 K%, 11.1 BB%, 6.9 WAR
2011: .223/.287/.437 slash line, .724 OPS (100 OPS+), 10 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB, 30.1 K%, 6.3 BB%, 0.6 WAR
Those stats tell half of the the tragic story. The injuries tell the other half. From 2005-2008, Grady only missed nine total games. In 2011 alone, he's already missed 80.
All of this misfortune covers up the fact that Grady is still only 29 years old. Sure, he's had some rough patches over the past three years, but there's still a chance he'll figure it out. How bad would it be if the Tribe lets Grady go and he dominates again elsewhere?
I know that Grady's struggled to hit this year. I know he's striking out way too much and that he can't seem to draw a walk anymore. I know he's still not even trying to steal any bases and can't stay healthy. Yet I still think (and believe) that the Indians should pick up his option for next year.
It may sound like a lot, but $8.5 million isn't that much in baseball. The Indians aren't going to be making a big splash in free agency this offseason and probably won't be raising payroll all that much. With the starting roster mostly set, there's no need to be cutting payroll by letting Grady go.
So let's give Grady one more chance. At best, he's the Grady of old again. At worst, the Indians sit him for most of 2012 and quietly let him go after the season. That sure beats letting him just walk away to me.