Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
GM Ben Cherington briefly spoke with reporters earlier this week – alluding to the unlikelihood that the team moves a starter before Spring Training or that Stephen Drew returns – and he hinted that the team could add one more piece to the Major League roster. It didn’t take long to learn what that piece would be, as Rob Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI.com report that the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a deal with Grady Sizemore.
It’s a one year deal that will pay the oft-injured 31 year old $750,000. The deal does include incentives that could bring the total value to $6 Million. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald relays that the incentives are tied into days on the active roster and plate appearances.
An assortment of injuries, including micro fracture surgery to his right knee, have limited the three-time All Star to just 210 games since the start of the 2009 season. He hasn’t played at all in each of the past two seasons. In 938 PA over the past five seasons he’s hit just .234/.314/.413.
It was what he did before the string of injuries that still intrigues people about his potential comeback. Sizemore was among the best players in the American League from 2005 to 2008. He’d hit .281/.372/.496 in 2,950 PA over that span. Add in 163 doubles, 107 home runs, 115 stolen bases, and an OPS+ of 128. Let’s not forget a pair of Gold Glove Awards as well. Still just 31, there’s a lot of hope around baseball that he’s got something left in the tank after working so hard to get back.
Giving Sizemore a Major League deal ensures that he’ll be on the roster, but Speier relays word from a source that the team is expecting him to compete with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field during Spring Training. It’s an overall low risk move by the Red Sox. If it works out then that means Sizemore forced his way into the lineup and still will only earn up to $6 Million on the year. If it doesn’t it’s a minimal cost up front, with a veteran presence working with Bradley daily. Given the makeup of the Boston roster, there will still potentially need to be a move before the team breaks camp. Mike Carp, David Ross, Jonathan Herrera, and one of Daniel Nava or Jonny Gomes project to be the team’s bench. Keeping both Sizemore and Bradley could end up pushing someone out.
Boston did need to make room on their 40-man roster in order to complete the deal with Sizemore, resulting in Brayan Villarreal being designated for assignment. The 26 year old right-hander walked the lone batter that he faced with the Red Sox last season, joining the team from the Detroit Tigers as a result of the three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to town. He’s out of options and was already in danger of not making the bullpen from camp, so he was the most likely candidate to be removed from the 40-man roster.