"I know right now his sights are set on playing next year. We'd love to have him back."
- GM Chris Antonetti
"We would like to continue our relationship with ‘G' probably as long as he would like to."
- manager Terry Francona
Jason Giambi provided arguably the moment of the Indians 2013 season, his walk-off home run against the White Sox on September 24, which came after Chris Perez had given up the lead in the top of the 9th, and gave the Tribe its 5th win in a row, at a time when every game felt like the playoffs. For that moment alone (and he had other big ones too), I'll remember Giambi's season quite fondly, as will most Cleveland fans, I suspect.
That said, Giambi's overall batting line was just .183/.282/.371, good for an OPS+ of 85. That's well below average, and is even worse for a player whose production provides zero value on the base paths or in the field. Giambi is the 23rd player in the expansion era (1961-present) to get 100+ plate appearances in his age-42 season. Only 3 of the other 22 players matched or improved upon their OPS+ at age 43. The other 19 either saw their production slip (which is what probably happens if Giambi returns as a player) or didn't play when they were 43 (which is what should happen here).
Giambi has been cited by numerous members of the team as a fantastic presence in the clubhouse, and I don't think that should be ignored or written off. There's no reason he can't provide that same presence as a member of the coaching staff though, instead of as a member of the 25-man roster. I think it would be a mistake to sign Giambi as a player again for 2014. I understand why he wants to keep playing, I suspect I'd feel the same way if I were in his position (though that home run would be quite a nice exclamation point on his great career, wouldn't it?). If he can convince someone to give him a roster spot, good for him. I don't want that someone to be Cleveland though. Instead, I hope they offer him a spot on the coaching staff, and I hope he accepts it.