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Boston Red Sox Have Multiple Outfield Options Now

January 23rd, 2014 at 1:57 PM
By Ron Juckett

'Grady Sizemore' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The Boston Red Sox will head to Fort Myers with six outfielders on their 25-man major league roster.

Wednesday night’s signing of Grady Sizemore now gives Boston a plethora of options to sort out over the next nine weeks. They are going to be forced to do something as six outfielders is one too many.

On the surface, the Sizemore signing does not change the starting depth chart. Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava will split time in left field. Shane Victorino will be patrolling right field and Jackie Bradley Jr’s name penciled in center. Mike Carp, who can play left and first base, is presumed to be the odd man out.

Before getting excited over there is a possibility that Bradley loses his presumptive job or Carp headed out the door and big, expensive and shiny new slugger or starting pitcher is coming in return, let us dig down a bit deeper.

The signing of Sizemore is straight out of the Theo Epstein book of genius, circa 2004. Boston takes on a player that once had the speed and power to slug 30 home runs and swipe 30 bases along with winning multiple Gold Gloves patrolling the vast center field of Cleveland’s Progressive Field—capturing the admiration and love of Flo, the insurance company’s perpetually chirpy spokesperson.

However, the downside of the deal is two-fold. The Red Sox signed a player that has not played in a competitive game at any pro level since 2011 to a major league contract. They would have to designate Sizemore for assignment, and have him clear waivers, in order to demote him. You are also assuming he would even agree to take the demotion if offered. A low-risk signing, like this, still actually involves a risk.

Sizemore impressed the brass enough to draw the incentive-driven deal, but coming off years of injuries, expecting him to be anything more than a valuable role player is a dream. The plus side to Sizemore is his age. At 31, and if fully recovered, Sizemore can offer some of the power and speed the Sox lost when Jacoby Ellsbury left for New York.

The potential reward for signing Sizemore reduces the risk even more.

Giving Bradley something to think about as he tries to claim the job we all have handed him this winter may be a blessing in disguise. For an established club like the Red Sox, having a positional battle—and possibly a roster spot fight—is rare for Spring Training. If they feel making Bradley hungry is going to motivate him to play better his second time around, then you do it.

Do not expect to see Carp moved early, if at all.

If Bradley has a bad spring AND Sizemore shows he is durable to play every day, Bradley will be the odd man out and will start 2014 patrolling the outfield in Triple-A Pawtucket, not eating sunflower seeds on the bench in Boston.

Until we get resolution on where Stephen Drew will play this spring, any guessing on who gets traded where is futile. Ben Cherington is not going to make a move until he knows the four players that are in back-up roles.

Right now, Boston is just maximizing their options.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, MLB, Shane Victorino

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