Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sox Sign Sizemore

Once a star, Sizemore hopes to catch on with the Red Sox (Boston Herald)
Since Jacoby Ellsbury vacated their center field spot in early December, the Boston Red Sox seemed content to roll the dice on Jackie Bradley Jr. and hope the soon-to-be 24 year-old was ready to hold down the job. There was no talk of moving Shane Victorino, a natural center fielder, over from right field. Ben Cherington didn't trade for Matt Kemp or sign a new outfielder. It looked like Bradley had the gig all to himself. 

The situation just became a little more complicated yesterday, when Boston signed Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $750,000 deal that could pay up to $6 million with incentives. Though Sizemore has not played a major league game since September 22nd, 2011, he says he's healthy and eager to get back on the field. 

It's been a long time since Sizemore was healthy, much less able to stay that way for any appreciable length of time. One of the baseball's best and brightest young players five years ago, Sizemore watched what should have been the prime of his career go up in flames. Injuries kept him off the field in 2012 and 2013, and he hasn't played anything close to a full season since 2008. It's probably going to take awhile for him to get his timing back, especially now that he's 31 years old, but the Red Sox are hoping he recover some of the ability that made him a three-time All-Star and perennial 30/30 threat with the Indians.

I don't think he'll ever again be anything close to the six-win player/fringe MVP candidate that he used to be, but at his price all he has to do is contribute on some level to qualify as a major bargain. Competent center fielders don't grow on trees, you know.

Worst case, Sizemore doesn't pan out and the Sox are on the hook for less than $1 million, which is just a drop in their $160 million bucket. At the very least, he'll provide a healthy dose of competition for the center field job, which hopefully inspires Bradley to work and play harder. There's something to be said about making young players prove themselves and earn their jobs rather than just handing it to them on a silver platter. Better than anyone, the Red Sox know how dangerous entitled athletes can be (see: 2011 and 2012). Perhaps Sizemore's mere presence at Spring Training can help bring out the best in Bradley.

Call me crazy, but I have this sneaky feeling that Sizemore still has something left in the tank. Not enough to play everyday, mind you (not on two surgically repaired knees), but maybe enough to be a quality fourth or fifth outfielder type. He could be this year's Mike Carp. Maybe that doesn't sound like much for someone who's most similar player through age 26 was Barry Bonds, but at least it's something. 

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