Declined Grady Sizemore's 2012 Team Option ($500K Buyout)
Exercised Fausto Carmona's 2012 Team Option ($7.0M)
It made sense to decline Sizemore's option. He hadn't been able to stay on the field in his last three seasons, and he's not going to get near that amount in guaranteed money on the open market. What once would have seemed a foregone conclusion to pick up turned into a foregone conclusion to decline. Multiple knee surgeries and other injuries have not only kept Sizemore out of the lineup, but also put into question his future as an everyday position player. If you can't stay on the field, talent doesn't mean much, and although I believe the talent is still there, he's now going to have to prove that he can play a full season. There will no shortage of teams interested in taking a flier or even offering a multi-year deal on Sizemore, as he's only 29 years old and more than enough power to play in a corner.
Those are the hard facts, but there's also an emotional side to this as well. In 2004, when he first appeared in the majors as a 21-year-old, the sky seemed the limit. He hit .289/.348/.484 as a 22-year-old and was only going to get better. He won the first of what would probably by many Gold Gloves in 2007. He was a joy to watch both in the field and on the base paths. And he was durable; in his first four full seasons, he appeared in at least 157 games. After the 2008 season, it seemed that we were watching the beginnings of a Hall of Fame career, and he was only going to get better. And he was going to be in an Indian for the next four season, presumably through a good portion of his prime.
Then, the injuries started to happen. He made his first trip to the DL in late May of 2009, and also missed much of September of that season. Then, the major knee injuries happened, and the 2010 and 2011 seasons were almost total washes. Still, even with three seasons' worth of major injuries, declining a $9M option was difficult, because even with reason telling you that it was the right thing to do, you still believe that the magic isn't gone.
Traded LHP Chris Jones (A+) to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Derek Lowe (Braves to pay $10M of Lowe's $15M 2012 Salary)
Th reasoning here makes some sense. The Indians needed another starter, and the free agent pickings were slim to say the least. Derek Lowe is not the pitcher he once was, but he has been durable, and the Indians aren't counting on him to be one of their best pitchers. They have a lot of young starter depth (though more quantity than quality), so they also don't have to count on Lowe making 30 starts. Lowe is probably more Jack Morris than Dennis Martinez at this stage of his career, though; although his FIP (3.70) was actually pretty decent everything else (loss in velocity, increase walk rates) points to an aging pitcher that isn't going to bounce back. He's also going to be pitching in front of a below-average to poor infield defense, and in a much tougher league. I'm not expecting much, but if he gives the Indians 150 innings and 20 starts, he'll be worth $5M and a marginal prospect.