The Boston Red Sox Wednesday night inked former Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year contract. The base salary for Sizemore will be $750,000, but could reach $6 million if he reaches a number of undisclosed incentives.
Sizemore, 31, was a five-tool player for Cleveland in the late 2000s before injuries turned a potential Hall of Fame career into one that might have been. A three-time all-star, Sizemore had his best season in 2008. Hitting .268, he joined the 30 homer and stolen base club by slugging 33 and swiping 38. He also won two Gold Gloves for his work in center and a Silver Slugger for that year as well.
After a series of knee injuries took him out of the everyday lineup starting in 2009, Sizemore has not played in the major leagues since 2011. At the end, his speed and ability to draw walks had gone, but his power stroke was starting to come back.
This is a major league contract. Boston made room for Sizemore on the 40-man roster by designating for assignment left-hander Brayan Villarreal.
WEEI’s Alex Speier and Rob Bradford report that Sizemore will compete with Jackie Bradley Jr. for the Opening Day starter’s job in center on March 31.
Bradley is still the favorite to win that position—after Jacoby Ellsbury departed for the New York Yankees via free agency—but the Red Sox felt they needed some added depth behind him and Shane Victorino after Bradley failed to stay on the Red Sox after a hot Spring Training put him on the Boston Opening Day roster last year.
If healthy, Sizemore can give Boston what they are looking for, a good insurance policy that has power and the range to cover Fenway’s sizeable centerfield. If he can find the eye and power that he used so well with the Indians, this deal could be a steal, even if he reaches all the incentives that would pay him the full $6 million.
On the other hand, Sizemore has not played in a pro game at any level since 2011.
In order for Bradley Jr. to lose his job, he is actually going to have to have the Spring Training from hell. Sizemore is going to need extended time to find his swing after a three season forced sabbatical. Wind sprints and shagging fly balls is fine, but if Sizemore can win the starter’s job in Fort Myers, he is going to need Bradley to implode.
Still, this is a smart signing by general manager Ben Cherington.
Sizemore is a low-risk high-reward signing that could give Boston the center field depth they need without having to shift Victorino back and forth between right and center. Sizemore’s presence will also allow Victorino to take an extra day of rest from the outfield as needed. Remember, Victorino is coming of thumb surgery this offseason to repair a torn ligament.
For the money involved, it is a no-brainer.
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