CLEVELAND -- Even after allowing Grady Sizemore to enter the free-agent pool, the Indians insisted that they maintained interest in keeping the center fielder in the fold. Now, a deal between the two sides appears close to fruition.
On Friday night, multiple reports indicated that the Indians and Sizemore are in serious negotiations on a one-year contract. General manager Chris Antonetti declined to comment on any ongoing talks.
"I will refrain from specifically commenting on any speculation," Antonetti wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. "But we remain interested in keeping Grady in an Indians' uniform and have expressed that sentiment to Grady and his representatives."
The two sides were working out the details of a deal for Sizemore this weekend and an announcement is likely to come within the next couple of days. Prior to this latest turn of events, the general thought was that Sizemore was unlikely to stay in Cleveland, given the considerable list of organizations showing interest in him this offseason.
It has been reported that as many as eight teams -- including such big-market clubs as the Yankees, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox and Phillies -- have shown some level of interest in rolling the dice on Sizemore, who became a free agent after the Indians declined his $9 million club option for 2012.
One stumbling block for other teams is that the 29-year-old Sizemore is rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, performed by Dr. Richard Steadman on Oct. 3, and is unable to go through a full workout.
The Indians, however, are extremely familiar with Sizemore's recent medical history, and Sizemore's agent, Joe Urbon, indicated that the club "came at us with an aggressive offer," according Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
The details of Cleveland's offer are not known, but the Indians would likely be interested in a contract that includes a low base salary and performance incentives. Given Sizemore's recent history of injury, keeping him for $9 million was not something Cleveland wanted to do.
This past season, Sizemore hit .224 with 10 homers, 32 RBIs and no stolen bases in 71 games. He hit .282 with six homers and 11 RBIs in his first 18 games following a 10-month rehab from microfracture surgery on his left knee (also performed by Steadman).
Sizemore was hindered by an injury to his right knee in 2011, and it was revealed in July that he had been playing through a sports hernia, which also required surgery.
Over the past three years, Sizemore has undergone five operations (both knees, two sports hernias and his left elbow).
If the Indians do indeed re-sign Sizemore, they can only hope they are getting the player who was a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and 30-30 threat from 2005 to 2008. During that stretch he had a line of .281/.372/.496, with 107 homers, 115 stolen bases and 325 RBIs over 639 games.
Between 2009 and 2011, Sizemore has hit .234/.314/.413 with 28 homers, 17 stolen bases and 109 RBIs over just 210 games.
Right now it is unclear whether Sizemore would return to his familiar spot in center field. The alternative would be for the Indians to play him in left field, with Michael Brantley in center, and it has been reported that Sizemore is willing to accept a role in any outfield spot as a free agent.
With the rotation strengthened by the addition of sinkerballer Derek Lowe, Cleveland's primary offseason need is offensive help. The Indians have identified the outfield and first base as the two possibilities for upgrades.