Despite the shaky nature of Grady Sizemore's health, the Cleveland Indians took a good risk by resigning him to a one-year deal. While the contract is not officially signed, multiple outlets are reporting that a deal is imminent (Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal, MLB Trade Rumors).
What makes this deal a good one for the Indians is the contract Sizemore is expected to sign. According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the deal will "include a low base salary but enough performance bonuses to where he could earn at least $9 million if he's able to play a full season and produce the kind of offense he did from 2005 through 2008."
So, the Tribe will probably be on the hook for $3-4 million no matter what and pay Grady more if he plays well. That's a perfect investment for the Indians because a producing Grady Sizemore is one of the better players in the league.
From 2005-2008, Sizemore averaged a .281/.372/.496 slash line, an .868 OPS (128 OPS+), a .376 wOBA, 26 HR, 79 RBI, 28 SB and a 6.9 fWAR. While expecting him to regain that form may be a little extreme, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that a healthy Grady could put up this line in 2012:
120 G, 550 PA, .260/.350/.450 slash line, .800 OPS, .350 wOBA, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
I would bet that the Indians will give Grady plenty of days off, which would (hopefully) keep him healthy and off of the DL. If he split time in center field with Michael Brantley, Sizemore should still be able to handle the position on at least a serviceable level. Two years removed from microfracture surgery, Grady's knees should be in a better position to handle the stress of a Major League season.
How do you feel about Grady Sizemore returning in 2012?
This is a list of players whose 2011 seasons are comparable to my "Grady is healthy in 2012" projection. The list includes Brandon Phillips (6.0 fWAR), Carlos Santana (3.8), Carlos Lee (3.2), Michael Cuddyer (3.1), David Freese (2.7), Ryan Zimmerman (2.5), Desmond Jennings (2.4), Ramon Hernandez (2.0), Brennan Boesch (1.7) and Freddie Freeman (1.0).
If the Indians could acquire any one of these players, I would be happy. All nine of these players can help their teams win now and would be great additions. If taking a chance on Sizemore ends up equivalent to getting one of these players then the Indians have come out very well. If it doesn't, at least the Tribe didn't lose all that much money.
The Indians will still need to find an outfielder who doesn't hit left-handed to balance out their lineup (preferably one who can play all outfield positions like Angel Pagan), but bringing back Sizemore makes sense for the Tribe.
He may not be the Grady of old, but the 2012 edition of Grady Sizemore may be enough to help get the Indians over the hump.