Teams and players will have to announce by midnight on Monday night whether they’re exercising or declining their 2012 options. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster struck first Saturday, exercising his $14 million player option to stay in Chicago. Here are some of the other calls still to be made:
Grady Sizemore (Cle) – The Indians hold a $9 million option on Sizemore that ranks as one of the toughest calls of the offseason. Dealing with injuries for the third straight season, Sizemore hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 homers in 268 at-bats. Still, he’s just 29 and he was one of the AL’s best players four years running from 2005-08. For $9 million, the Indians should take the chance that he bounces back. (Update: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian is reporting that the Indians will decline the option and pay a $500,000 buyout.)
Aramis Ramirez (ChC) – Even though Ramirez overcame a rough start to hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, it’s long been assumed that the Cubs would decline their $16 million option on his services. That doesn’t seem likely to change with Theo Epstein in town.
Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero (Cin) – The Reds have been trying to work out new deals with both in lieu of picking up options worth $12 million. Phillips’ option is sure to be exercised if nothing can be worked out. Cordero seems likely to get a two-year deal worth significantly less than $12 million per season.
Marco Scutaro (Bos) – Scutaro’s contract includes a rare double option that allows Scutaro to return at a lesser price if the Red Sox decline to pick up their half of the option. However, all indications are that the Red Sox will pick up their half and bring their shortstop back at $6 million for 2012.
Nick Swisher (NYY) – The Yankees have weighed a bid for Carlos Beltran, but their plan is to exercise Swisher’s $10.25 million option. Even if they decide later that they’d rather have Beltran, Swisher should be tradeable at that price.
Yadier Molina (StL), Robinson Cano (NYY) – It’s long been obvious that these two are getting exercised. Molina will make $7 million in 2012, while Cano will get a hefty raise to $14 million.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.
Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.
Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.
So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]
Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.
I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.
Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”
Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.
It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.