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Tribe Happenings: Carmona, Sizemore staying put

January 30, 2011
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The Indians need Carmona to anchor the staff
while they rebuild and as they move back into
contention (Photo: AP).
Some news, notes, and thoughts from my Tribe notebook...

Carmona, Sizemore are not on trade block

A report from a Baltimore news outlet on Tuesday made mention that the Indians and Washington Nationals have discussed a deal that would send right-handed pitcher Fausto Carmona and outfielder Grady Sizemore to the Nationals. The report cited an anonymous big league scout who told the reporter that the scout had "heard" of some "conversations taking place" between the Indians and Nationals.

The report is completely false and mostly speculation.

I've learned through several sources connected to the Indians that they in no way have had any discussion with the Nationals about Sizemore and Carmona, and that they certainly are not looking to trade either of them right now. It is no mystery that at some point they will probably entertain offers for both players, but right now they have no intention whatsoever to trade them as they need them for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Besides, there is no reason the Indians should have a need to trade Carmona. Typically when a team trades a player for financial reasons, they are looking to get out from under a bad contract or they want to get something for a player before they leave via free agency. Neither of those two scenarios applies to Carmona as he is under the Indians' control for four more seasons and he has as team friendly a contract as you will see.

There is no long term monetary commitment to Carmona as 2011 is the last guaranteed year of his contact that calls for him to make a little more than $6 million this season, which is peanuts for a pitcher of his caliber. After this season he has three club options for 2012 ($7 million), 2013 ($9 million), and 2014 ($12 million) that the organization can pick up or decline as they see fit before he is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

At this point the Indians can just go year-to-year with Carmona and have no long term financial obligation to him beyond each season. If at any point he is deemed too expensive or unproductive, they just decline his option the next offseason and let him become a free agent or try to trade him. But if he continues to perform well, they pick up his option.

As for Sizemore, it is no secret that he is eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, so trade talks should start to come more to the forefront with him this season. But any trade talks involving him right now are extremely premature and would only be to lay a foundation to a deal for later this year or next year after he proves he is healthy from microfracture surgery on his knee.

Right now no one is going to pay anything of value for Sizemore until interested teams can dispatch their scouts to watch him play and evaluate his health and ability this season. Also, the Indians are certainly not going to take a bath on him right now just to dump his salary.

The Indians still plan on contending in 2012, so they are going to be counting on Sizemore to be a big piece of the puzzle for the offense. If he proves he is not healthy this year they have the option of declining his $9 million club option for 2012, so like Carmona they can just go year to year with him the next two seasons without any long term financial commitment. If he is healthy and produces, then they will surely pick up his option for 2012.

Another thing to note with Sizemore which hurts his trade value right now is that if traded that 2012 club option becomes a player option. This would mean he controls whether his option for 2012 is picked up, and if he declines it he would become a free agent after the 2011 season. This will surely be a big sticking point for any team looking to acquire his services later this year.

Donald at third?

Infielder Jayson Nix is the frontrunner to land the Indians' opening day gig as the regular third baseman when the season starts, but the Indians have several other options at their disposal they plan to look at and use at third base over the course of the 2011 season. One of those alternatives is infielder Jason Donald.

Donald played a lot last year with the big league club and showed flashes of potential with the bat hitting .253 with four homers and 24 RBI in 88 games in his Major League debut. He is also considered a solid defender with the versatility to play any of the three infield spots at third base, shortstop, and second base. While he is penciled in as the starting second baseman in Cleveland to open the 2011 season, he has worked out a lot at third base in the offseason to prepare for some possible playing time there this coming season.

After Nix and Donald, the Indians have several other options such as infielders Luis Valbuena, Cord Phelps, Jack Hannahan, and maybe even Jared Goedert who could fill in at the position this year.

Bottom line, no matter who is tabbed the starter at third base to start the season it should be a position in flux all year where several players get playing time until top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is hopefully ready to take over full time duties by the end of the season.

Who's on second?

What the Indians do at third base this year will have an impact at what happens in the short term with second base. While Nix is the frontrunner at third base and Donald at second base to start the season, as the season moves along several changes are expected in a year where the Indians will look to incorporate more of their higher level minor league talent. As a result, it is very unlikely that both Nix and Donald will still be the starters at both positions by the end of the season.

Two of the Indians

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