Indians declined the 2012 club option on Grady Sizemore, making the outfielder eligible for free agency.
The Indians had the choice of buying out Sizemore's contract for $500,000, or exercising it for $8.5 million. They chose the former, and while that does not rule out Sizemore returning to the Indians on a contract that's more within the Indians' budget, he'll certainly test the free-agent waters for the first time in his career.
Sizemore came over from the Expos in one of the most lopsided trades of the decade, joining Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips in exchange for a half-season of Bartolo Colon. In his eight seasons with the Indians, he was a three-time All-Star, and he won two Gold Gloves. After four straight seasons with more than 700 plate appearances, though, Sizemore's body began to betray him in 2009. He suffered left elbow injuries and a sports hernia, and in 2010 he underwent microfracture surgery to his left knee. His 2011 season was cut short with an injury to his right knee; although he came back to play ten games in September, he was limited to 71 games on the year.
Now Sizemore becomes one of the market's more interesting free agents. Will teams offer pennies on the dollar, assuming he's on the Nomar Garciaparra or Eric Chavez road to oblivion, or will a team actually guarantee a healthy amount to him, hoping he still has the talent he showed as a 25-year-old? It wasn't that long ago that he was one of the very best players in the game, and this will add a wrinkle (and microfracture) into the free-agent pool.