The natural answer to that question would be, “If healthy, Sizemore is a great fit on any club.” Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald speculates that Grady Sizemore might be worth a look for the Sox on a one or two year deal that included a low base salary plus incentives and maybe a player option. He compares a possible Sizemore deal to what the Sox did with Adrian Beltre in 2010.
Acquiring Sizemore would mean that he’d have to shift to right field, a position he has yet to play in the big leagues. Then again, given his athleticism, the transition shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Sizemore’s agent has stated that his client would indeed consider moving to a corner given the right situation. Given his recent knee problems, I think that’s a good idea.
Sizemore is coming off of an injury plagued season and that’s an understatement. He played in only 71 games with 295 plate appearances and not only had to deal with issues recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, but ended up having surgery on his right knee in October. He also had surgery on a sports hernia during the season. Yikes.
In 2008, Sizemore stole 38 bases. In his last 104 games, he has stolen a grand total of four bases, all of which came in 2010. At 29 years of age, he may not be completely done as a base stealer, but chances are he’ll never come close to his pre-2009 totals.
So if Grady Sizemore isn’t a base stealer, then he’s no longer a 30/30 threat. However, as long as the Sox don’t view him as such, they (as do all other teams) have an opportunity to tap into one particular aspect of his game and let it thrive: His power.
Last season, even with injuries to both knees (as well as surgery for a sports hernia), Sizemore blasted 10 home runs in 268 at-bats. That’s a HR/AB rate of 26.8, which would translate to about 20.5 home runs in 550 at-bats. That’s not an AB/HR rate of a slugger, but again consider that he played the season in almost constant pain or discomfort. Sizemore’s career best AB/HR rate came in 2008 (19.2 AB/HR) when he hit 33 home runs in 634 at-bats. He has also displayed very good plate discipline in the past, a trait that hasn’t shown up in the small sample sizes of his last two seasons, but is something the he presumably still has.
Perhaps Sizemore’s transition from power/speed threat to pure slugger has already begun. He has seen a drastic rise in this strikeout rate over the past two seasons, but that too can be viewed softly due to a small sample size and the injury issues. To me, it seemed like Sizemore was trying too hard to hit for power last season, which resulted in a career high fly-ball plus infield fly-ball rate of 57.7 percent.
If the Sox can convince Sizemore to sign and play right, convince him that he doesn’t need to steal bases anymore, just hit some bombs and take plenty of walks, they might have a bargain on their hands. Then again, their not the only team thinking this way I’m sure.
Of course, all of this means nothing if Sizemore can’t stay healthy enough to profile like the hitter he was in 2009; 12 percent walk rate, 18 percent strikeout rate and a .284 True Average (TAv). That season, he put up a .197 ISO and .343 OBP despite battling an elbow injury.
At least the Sox would have depth should they sign Sizemore only to see him fall to injury once more. Both Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish have the ability to perform at above replacement level, if not well above.
The only other problem would be that Sizemore would be yet another left-handed bat in a lineup potentially full of them: Ellsbury, A-Gonz, Papi (should he re-sign) and Crawford.
Given the injury risk and left-handed bat (he’s a career .227/.315/.378 hitter against lefties), I’m not sure Sizemore is really a great fit for the Red Sox. Then again, there aren’t too many right-handed hitting free agents out there that are a great fit either (Josh Willingham and Michael Cuddyer would be a defensive liability in right). I see Sizemore as more of an alternative rather than a real need. Once the Sox figure out what they’re doing in the rotation and bullpen, then they can asses whether or not to pursue Sizemore (if he’s still available by then).