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 RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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