Last night, the Red Sox came to terms with Grady Sizemore on a one-year major league deal that will grant him a base salary of $750K with incentives that could range up to $6MM. This looks to be exactly the type of signing that pundits could be rating “The Best Move of the 2013-14 Offseason” a year from now. The contract combines a relatively low risk with a massive reward, as Sizemore was one of the best players in baseball before he began dealing with huge numbers of injuries.
It is hard to remember now, but from 2005-2009 (his age 22-26 seasons), Sizemore was one of the best players in baseball. In that timeframe, he posted a .276/.368/.488 slash line, averaging 25 home runs and 26 stolen bases while playing excellent defense in center field, winning back-to-back Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008.
Now, I hate to be a downer, but the Sizemore that the Red Sox will be getting will almost certainly not be the Sizemore of 2005-2009. The Sizemore that the Red Sox will be getting is the player who hasn’t played since 2011, and slashed .220/.280/.379 in parts of his last two major league seasons. The Sizemore that we’ll be getting has had microfracture surgeries on both knees, back surgery, sports hernia surgery, and elbow surgery.
For the first time since 2009, Sizemore is fully healthy and ready to return to baseball, however. The Red Sox did sign him to a major-league contract, so it is clear that they believe he will be ready to play in 2014. Sizemore will likely compete for a starting center field job in spring training, competing against top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. If he makes the team, then the Red Sox will have a bit of an outfield logjam, likely having to deal one of Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and Jonny Gomes.
However, we can figure that out once we get there. For now, we can revel in how the Red Sox have potentially just made a huge move. If Sizemore is even half the player that he was in his prime– he averaged 6.7 WAR per season from 2005-2008– then, he will be an above-average major league player. If course, there’s also a solid chance that Sizemore either gets hurt or cannot play at close to the level he once could, and if that happens, there’s still little risk to this signing. This is the kind of low-risk, huge-reward signing that one loves to see as a fan.
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