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Grady Sizemore plans to play again

Sizemore has stayed in touch with MLB teams and plans to return in 2014

Jared Wickerham

Former Indians All-Star Grady Sizemore intends to be back on the field in 2014. This comes from Ken Rosenthal, who tweeted the update and considers Sizemore "likely to sign this off-season."

Sizemore hasn't played since 2011, and hasn't played anything even vaguely resembling a full season since 2009, but from 2005 to 2008 he was one of the five best players in baseball, and it isn't hyperbole to say he seemed headed for a Hall of Fame career. He hit for power (averaging 76 extra-base hits a season over those years), drew walks at a high rate (finishing in the top five in the American League in both 2007 and 2008), ran the bases well (ranking 6th in MLB in the base running component of bWAR for those years), and played strong defense in centerfield (winning two Gold Gloves, with strong scores in most of the advanced metrics as well). He was the best all around outfielder in baseball, and he remains the best player the Indians have had since Jim Thome's departure.

The Indians signed him to a $5 million deal for 2012, only to see injuries keep him out the entire season. That followed a 2011 season that saw him miss more games than he played, and put up less than league average production when he was on the field. Many questioned the 2012 signing at the time, and while I don't think $5 million was a horrible risk to take, certainly it didn't turn out well for the Tribe.

Even if there wasn't any residual concern after holding a front row seat to his struggles to remain healthy, the Indians seem quite unlikely to be the team he signs with this offseason, between Michael Bourn in CF, Michael Brantley in LF, and either Drew Stubbs or Nick Swisher in RF (which Sizemore doesn't have the arm for anyway). Sizemore has said nothing but good things about his time in Cleveland, and I have no reason not to believe him, but he might be ready to turn the page and look for a fresh start somewhere else anyway.

He seems unlikely to get more than a minor league deal, and I have to admit that while I hope he can return to being at least a productive (and healthy) MLB player, I'm gonna be bummed out by seeing him in any other team's uniform. There wouldn't be much sense in the Tribe signing him to a minor league deal, but at such a low risk, I wouldn't mind it if they did.

(To be clear, I'm not saying that a return to Cleveland is going to happen, just passing along the news that Sizemore does intend to return with one team or another, and a baseball writer with serious connections expects him to be signed.)

Nostalgia can be a powerful narcotic, I suppose, and at a time that's got Tribe fans wishing they could turn back the block eight days, now I find myself wishing we could turn it back eight years, to a time when we had the best young player in baseball roaming centerfield.