The Red Sox Should Not Sign Grady Sizemore

The Red Sox want to move past the J.D. Drew era in Boston and pick up a new right fielder. Being that these are the cash-loaded Sox, there are a bunch of prominent free-agent options who’ve been mentioned as options — namely Grady Sizemore.

But would Grady be the right move for Boston?

What’s left of Grady Sizemore?

Not much. From 2005 to 2008 he accumulated 27.4 WAR — or fourth overall in the league. Since then, he has only produced 1.9 WAR — and all of that WAR was from 2009, when he still had speed and some semblance of plate discipline.

Here are some stats that compare him from 2004 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2011:
BB%: 11% compared with 6%
K%: 22% compared with 30%
SB Attempts/PA: 4.7% compared with 1.8%
SB Success Rate: 77% compared with 50%

Simply put, Sizemore has shown no plate discipline and no speed over the last few seasons, and his hitting hasn’t been much better either. To put Sizemore’s recent output into perspective, his .287 wOBA over the last two seasons was behind players such as Yuniesky Betancourt, Adam Kennedy and Mark Teahen. Certainly, his performance likely suffered due to the various knee and elbow injuries that he’s been afflicted with, but the reality is that he has yet to show that he can perform well while dealing with the changes his body has undergone.

Since April 2009, Sizemore has missed time for knee injuries (three times) and for his maladies in his elbow and back. Those injuries have limited him to just 210 games played, and as noted, he hasn’t exactly been productive when on the field. Given the health concerns and the degradation in performance, it is an open question what Sizemore has left to offer a Major League team in the future.

So what should Boston do?

The Red Sox don’t need to waste time with oft-injured players like Sizemore, who offers much more risk than a team with their resources needs to absorb. After all, this is a team that scored 5.4 R/G in 2011 — the best in the majors — and most of that offensive cast is coming back next season. Even with the mediocre production Boston got from their right fielders – a combined .233/.299/.353 slash line overall in 2011 – their offense was still a juggernaut, and they aren’t in such need of production that they should be chasing after players who bring such uncertainty to the table

This is especially true when you look at the in-house alternatives on Boston’s roster. Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish both ZIPs projected 2012 stats“>project as below average hitters but offer some long term upside and offer similar risk-reward packages as Sizemore for the league minimum. If the team is interested in a high variance performance from right field, they’re better off just giving the kids a chance and spending their money elsewhere. If they want to reduce the risk of receiving another poor performance from their right fielders, they could just target a better performing free agent instead.

It’s understandable that Sizemore’s upside could be intriguing, but the Red Sox already have several talented right fielders who could produce a wide range of outcomes in 2012. Displacing Reddick and Kalish to simply bring in another high-risk player isn’t the best use of Boston’s vast resources. They should either bring in a more known quantity or simply spend their money elsewhere.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


25 Responses to “The Red Sox Should Not Sign Grady Sizemore”

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  1. Eminor3rd says:

    Agreed. The Red Sox are set offensively. They just need to not choke in a legendary fashion.

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  2. Caveman Jones says:

    Agreed. Can’t imagine the Sox would even attempt that route anyway though. They need more RHHs, not another injury prone LHH outfielder. If they make a run at anyone to fill that space full time it’ll be Beltran or Cuddyer. More realistically I see them getting a strictly RH platoon guy and letting Reddick start the year out there.

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    • Sean says:

      Am I crazy for thinking they should sign Willingham for left and slide Crawford over to right? Crawford doesn’t have a great arm by any means, but I think Willingham’s right handed bat would improve the lineup significantly enough to take the defensive hit.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        You’re a little crazy, yeah. But… only a little?

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      • Shane Heathers says:

        Crawford should absolutely be moved to right as they would make much better use of his athleticism. I know, I know his arm is not Clemente-esque but Fenway is such a different park. Right field is huuuge. Any first to third fiascos would be mitigated by his athleticism roaming around in right. Plus having a strong armed leftfielder can turn wall ball doubles in to singles at the FENS.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Not a bad argument!

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      • Mike says:

        If they insist on a left handed bat, then Kelly Johnson could return to left field.

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  3. KyleL says:

    Is looking at a sample size of less than a season’s worth of games spread out over two injury plagued years, and trying to conclude that a player doesn’t have anything left really all that productive?

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    • Ari Collins says:

      The fact that it’s a season’s worth of games spread out over two injury plagued years ITSELF leads to the conclusion that he doesn’t have anything left.

      I would have preferred myself that the author emphasized the injury history as an argument more than his performance in the limited sample when he’s been on the field, but he covered both.

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  4. Marver says:

    Sizemore would be a pretty good fit in RF at Petco Park. Perhaps he’s willing to weather the risk, take a one year deal, and then bail for a significantly more lucrative contract after showing he’s got something left in the tank.

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  5. Lance Berkman says:

    Yeah Ari. People were saying that about me too. Now I got a ring and had a pretty damn good season at the dish.

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  6. Dr. Strangelove says:

    I completely agree with the conclusion that the Red Sox shouldn’t sign Grady but I would quibble with this notion that big market teams should avoid players “who offers much more risk than a team with their resources needs to absorb.” If anything big market teams can take larger risks because they have the budgets to cover up those risks if they do fail to pan out. Part of the advantage that one gains by being a big market team is that they can take a flyer on a player without that eating a large portion of their budget.

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  7. DickAlmighty says:

    Doc Strange, yes, but even the richest teams only have twenty-five active MLB roster spots, so better to use those scarce spots on the best upside plays, and not on broken-down hopes like Grady Sizematters.

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  8. bill says:

    LEAVE ALL AS IS FOR THE OFFENCE….PITCHING , PITCHING, PITCHING…WHERE THE NEED IS….WHY TRY TO SPEND MONEY FOR ANOTHER INJURY PRONE PLAYER.THAT THE RED SOX DO NOT NEED….

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  9. Judy says:

    Because they might have to include Reddick and/or Kalish in trades for pitching, so they would have to figure something else out for RF that won’t cost a lot, so they have more money to spend on pitching.

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  10. Mast says:

    Why wouldnt the red sox sign sizemore it is a low risk high reward move that only two teams in baseball can make. The only thing it will cost is money and if he sucks and cant recover from the injury just eat it. The red sox and yankees can practicly print all the money they want. This is exactly the move that both teams should be looking for. If he can get over his injuries you have just stolen a all star caliber player because you were willing to give him a chance. if he pans out it could be the missing piece to their championship run. Obviously they do need to add depth to the pitching staff and by spending a little money on sizemore will not change the fact that they still go after any pitcher they want. Just cause you were burned with drew doesnt have any correlation sizemore. There is no risk

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  11. jesse says:

    I think the signing would be a huge thumbs down to kalish and especially Reddick.

    Even if you buy the premise that Grady and can still play he could never hit lefties anyway (career 227/318/378).

    as stated above targeting an outfielder that crushed lefties and plays both corner outfield spots .

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  12. ryan says:

    we need the new cuban , and mattingly to manage

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  13. Dave says:

    I love Grady when he was here in Cleveland much as most of the Indians fans. I havent saw anyone play as hard for the love of the game here since Kenny Lofton. Grady sacrificed his body trying to get this team to the playoffs and more. He wanted it that bad. If you can make room for him do so IMO. He will get healthy again. He needs to adjust his balls out attitude and maybe become more of a rotation player. Good luck Grady and hope you find a home somewhere.

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