New Deal Paves Way for Giambi’s Return
The Indians weren’t in the mood to sit around and wait on Thursday. On the day after the conclusion of the World Series, they were busy making moves and plotting out their strategy for improving the team in 2014. While Chris Perez was a casualty on day one of the offseason, veteran slugger Jason Giambi was on the receiving end of a new deal that could bring him back to Cleveland in 2014.
When the season ended for the Indians, both sides made it abundantly clear that Giambi wanted to come back to Cleveland as a player in 2014 and the Indians were more than interested in making that a reality. Mission accomplished. Giambi signed a minor league deal on Thursday that will include an invitation to Spring Training with the big league club. This is nothing Earth shattering. It is essentially the same deal Giambi signed prior to the 2013 season that resulted in him making the Opening Day roster.
The move to re-sign Giambi was motivated by the impact he had on the team not just on the field, but off of it. His veteran leadership played a key role in getting the Indians through the various peaks and valleys they encountered in 2013.
Of course, his performance on the field didn’t hurt things any.
While Giambi didn’t turn in the most impressive stat line you’ve ever seen, .183/.282/.371 in 216 plate appearances, he did manage to hit 9 home runs and drive in 31 runs. Oh, and his flair for the dramatic was top-notch. Jason Giambi turned in what were perhaps two of the finest moments of the 2013 season, both of which came against the Chicago White Sox.
On July 29, with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Giambi stepped to the plate against the White Sox’s Ramon Troncoso. He promptly hit the game winning home run to deep center field. Then on September 24, Giambi delivered what was perhaps the highlight of the season. Trailing 4-3 following a blown save by Chris Perez, Giambi stepped to the plate with one on and two out. On the third pitch of the at bat, he blasted a walk off home run into the right field stands. The win sparked the Indians season ending surge to the top of the wild card standings and might have even saved the season for the Indians.
Oh, and then there were the moments when Giambi led by example. None of which was more glaringly obvious than his head first slide into first base against the Phillies. It proved that if Giambi was willing to hustle and put his health on the line at the age of 42, then there was no reason why players 15 years younger couldn’t be doing the same thing.
However, while the re-signing of Jason Giambi can be viewed as a positive, it by no means guarantees him of anything. Giambi will still have to make the team out of Spring Training and prove that he is worth the roster spot. A lot is working in his favor. His veteran presence combined with Terry Francona‘s loyalty to “his guys” will certainly help. Either way, the resigning of Jason Giambi is one of the first steps the Indians are taking in the formation of the 2014 roster.