December 21, 2014

Medina
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Chris Assenheimer: Time to cut ties with Hafner, Sizemore

General manager Chris Antonetti says the Indians, who own a $13 million option on Travis Hafner next year, would consider bringing the designated hitter back — at a reduced rate, of course.

Who’s next, Grady Sizemore?

I mean, isn’t it time to cut the cord on these two oft-injured, one-time producing, money-sapping painful reminders of what could have been, once and for all?

The answer is an emphatic — “YES!!!!!” Turn the page.

I know it hurts the Indians to think they invested a whole lot of time and cash on two projected rising stars that were going to be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.

I know it kills them to think that when this season is complete they will have paid Hafner close to $60 million over the past five years as part of one of the worst contract extensions in the history of the game. And for that, they have received minuscule production and zero injury-free seasons.

Did I mention Hafner is on the disabled list for the second time this season after beginning the year as healthy as he’s been since 2007, and that when the Indians decline his option for 2013, they still owe him a $2.75 million buyout?

They can’t even tell Hafner not to let the door hit him on the behind on the way out because they have to write him one final check.

Sizemore, whom the Indians chose to re-sign for $5 million after declining a hefty option prior to this season, has spent the entire year rehabbing a back injury that required surgery. There’s no telling whether the Indians will get any return on their investment — and it certainly won’t be the one they were expecting.

There is the very real possibility that the Indians will pay Sizemore to rehab an injury — something they are becoming quite accustomed to.

I know it hurts, but turn the page.

Hey, I get it. These guys were the real deal. Hafner was once one of the most feared run-producers in the American League, belting 30-plus home runs and driving in over 100 runs on a yearly basis.

Sizemore looked even better, a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner that former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen called the best player in the Central Division.

Sure, Hafner isn’t a position player, but these were two guys worth building your team around — two guys the fans embraced more than any others.

That’s not what they are in either regard anymore. The Indians can’t afford to keep them around any longer, and their fans now want the once- dynamic duo on the next flight out of Cleveland.

Sizemore and Hafner have become black eyes on the organization, running jokes that won’t stop until they are both gone.

The salaries of Hafner and Sizemore will consume $18 million of Cleveland’s
$65-plus million payroll this season.

Hafner’s salary was already set in stone, but how tough do you think it is for the Dolans, Antonetti and the boys to swallow that they gave Sizemore money for nothing when they could have used it toward a third year on a contract for outfielder Josh Willingham, who has told reporters that’s what it would have taken to sign with Cleveland over Minnesota?

It was a mistake to re-sign Sizemore. Don’t make it again with him or Hafner.

I know it hurts, but turn the page.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.