The Indians have until 3 days after the World Series to pick up the 2012 option on centerfielder Grady Sizemore. Sizemore's troubles staying healthy have been well documented over the past three seasons as he has only played in 210 games while posting a slash line of .234/.314/.413 with 28 HR and 109 RBI in 938 PA.
I do not believe many fans would blame the Indians brass for not wanting to commit 9 million dollars to a player that has had 5 surgeries (two groin, one elbow, and two knee) in the last three years. Hard to believe that the Indians are the side looking to lessen the strain on a contract once believed to be exhibit A on why young players shouldn't give up so much and sign a long term deal.
Many fans are hoping that the Indians are working a deal with Sizemore that would keep him in an Indians uniform for the 2012 season. This would require working a new deal at a lower base salary with incentives (most likely based on PAs) that could eventually be worth more than his current 9 million. If the Indians don't exercise the 2012 option there will be plenty of teams lining up to take a gamble on him as he is still only 29 years old and packs quite a bit of power in his swing.
When working a contract for 2012, I would take the same course of negotiations with Grady Sizemore that the Boston Red Sox took when signing Adrian Beltre following the 2009 season. Beltre was coming off a very sub-par 2009 season where he hit .265/.304/.379 with 8 HR and 44 RBI and had only played in 111 games. He was a free agent who was turning 31 years old and there were a lot of whispers that he may be older than he stated, that he may not be able to stay healthy, and that he may be on the downside of his career.
The Red Sox signed Beltre to a contract that included a 2010 salary of 9 million. The contract included a second year player option of 5 million dollars. If he had 575 PA the Red Sox could buy the 2011 option out for 1 million dollars. If he had 640 PAs or more than the 2011 option increased from 5 million to 10 million and the Red Sox 1 million buyout went into his pocket (if he chose to opt out). Essentially, at a minimum he was going to earn 10 million for 1 year or 14 million for 2 years. From the Red Sox point of view, 2 years at an average salary of 7 million is not much of a risk and with Beltre's history it was certainly a gamble worth taking.
This contract structure worked for the Red Sox and for Beltre. If he had a bad year but exceeded the 575 PA threshold then the Red Sox were only out 10 million. If he had a bad year with less than 575 PA then the Red Sox were out 14 million. If Beltre had a good year he would be able to collect his 9 million from the Red Sox and hit the free agent market after the season. Of course, Beltre had the good year and parlayed that into a 5 year 80 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers (with an additional 16 million dollar option in 2016 based on PAs to push contract to 96 million).
Grady Sizemore's agent should look for the same type of deal that could put him back on the open market following the 2012 season. Of course, a team taking a 1-year flier on Sizemore still enables him to become a free agent after the season, but by working a second year into the mix he may be able to boost his 2012 earnings slightly higher while still hitting free agency after the season.
If the Indians were working on this type of deal today, I'd suggest a base salary of 5 million with reachable incentives on plate appearances. I'd give him the right to veto trades to 10 teams, and I'd add in a 2 million dollar bonus if he was to accept a trade.