Grady Sizemore: Free Agent Target?

Over at the Chronicle, John Shea brings up the idea of signing Grady Sizemore, suggesting that “it could be worthwhile for a team to take a one-year flier on Sizemore.” Sizemore, 29, is a few years removed from being an elite player — from 2005-2008, he hit .281/.372/.496 with 115 stolen bases and quality defense in centerfield. Since then, he’s hit .234/.314/.413 with 17 stolen bases, appearing in just 210 games over a three-year span. The Indians have a tight payroll, so there’s a good chance they don’t exercise Sizemore’s $9MM club option — meaning he could very well hit the free agent market. We’ll find out in about a week or so.

As of now, the Giants’ top centerfield FA target is probably Coco Crisp; he’s a guy who makes sense for a number of reasons, all of which I’ve outlined in the past: he’s still a quality defender, he’s still a legitimate stolen-base threat, and he’s put up a pretty solid performance over the last two seasons. For these same reasons, however, he might very well be overvalued by teams (stolen bases in particular are a statistical phenomenon that tends to be overvalued). The one thing that’s easy to forget is that Crisp is not terribly durable himself, having appeared in just 260 games over the last three seasons. That, combined with the fact that he’s a few years older than Sizemore, suggests that he’s not much less of an injury liability than Grady. Note that Baseball Prospectus considers both Crisp and Sizemore to be serious risks in that respect.

There are players that constantly incur injuries, and simply can never stay healthy. Guys like Nick Johnson and Rich Harden are eternally doomed by this. It’s possible that this is the path down which Sizemore’s career is headed, but at age 29, there’s also reasonable hope that he is in fact capable of a comeback. Because of this, it would make sense for the Giants to ponder grabbing Sizemore on a one-year deal — the classic low-risk potentially-high-reward contract. He’s probably not worth a whole lot less than Crisp, but I imagine he’ll be valued quite differently this offseason. If that does turn out to be the case, San Francisco should by all means pursue Sizemore in lieu of Crisp.

Either way, the Giants will need reasonable backup plan. They can’t rely on either of them to remain healthy all year, so they could use some insurance. Justin Christian‘s obviously not the answer here, and Gary Brown isn’t, either. I’m all in favor of retaining Andres Torres (which I don’t imagine is a popular opinion). 2011 was a disappointing season for Andres, but he still provides elite defense in centerfield, as well as speed on the basepaths and the ability to draw walks. I think he ultimately would constitute a reasonable backup plan, but there are other options out there as well.

In any event, the Giants should definitely consider targeting Sizemore on a reasonably-priced one-year deal. They could capitalize on the recent injury-warped portion of his career, taking a gamble on his ability to stay healthy. This is exactly the kind of move that could pay huge dividends for the Giants (if all goes well), while keeping within payroll restrictions. More often than not, these deals don’t reap big rewards. But it’s certainly worth a shot in this case.

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19 thoughts on “Grady Sizemore: Free Agent Target?

  1. Grady Sizemore has already undergone microfracture surgery, a procedure on which the jury is still very much out over whether it actually works or not. He is now undergoing arthroscopic surgery, although I admit I don’t know if it’s on the same knee or not. I’m as intrigued by his upsides as anyone, but IMO, his risk is far higher than Crisp’s and Crisp’s is pretty darn high. It would have to be a very low base salary and they would have to have a darn good backup plan.

    • I would like to think that Sizemore is not somehow inherently more injury prone than other players. He stayed relatively free of injuries from 2005-2008 despite his “go all out” playing style that is really fun to watch. He has had bad luck with injuries since then. He injured his knee sliding into a base, which could happen to anyone. His first knee injury was his to his left knee. He recovered from that one following surgery. He also had an elbow surgery which he recovered from. This current knee injury involved his other knee, the right one, and hopefully less serious than the first. If the doctors are giving him a favorable medical prognosis, the Giants should consider pursuing Sizemore because if he is healthy and returns to form he could again be an all star, gold glover, silver slugger who ignites an offense and makes spectacular plays on defense. It would be great to see him driving balls into triples alley, as well as robbing opponents on balls they hit out there.

  2. Why do you think retaining Andres Torres would be unpopular? Maybe with Sabean and Bochy, from the comments made, but not with fans. It would be a pretty big mistake to let him walk for the reasons you outlined. Sizemore is going to get interest from at least 1/3 of the league, I don’t think he will be cheap. Still worth “kicking the tires” but what free agent hitter has ever gone to PacBell for a one year prove it deal before?

    • I feel that, within the fanbase, there’s a large subset of fans who think Torres is…well, bad. They think he’s completely incompetent with the bat, and vastly underrate his value on the basepaths and in the field.

      The thing with Sizemore is — this isn’t really a common thing. Not often is there a player with a) several elite seasons under their belt, b) more recently, three injury-plagued seasons under their belt, c) on the open market. The closest thing I can think of (for Sabean) is the Ryan Klesko signing…which is, well, not a very similar case at all.

    • A pretty ignorant comment was just made in reply to this (though I decided to delete it):

      “Not welcome to stay by this fan. He was a flash in the pan in 2010 – he is a journeyman….always has been and always will be. Great defense – but REALLY dumb at the plate (it may have to do with his ADS or whatever it is that he reportedly has).

      One of the worst clutch hitters in Giants history.”

      ^this is exactly what I was talking about though.

      • Wow, I guess I’m out of touch, I thought most fans loved Torres. I certainly do. It was tough watching him struggle for sure, but 2010 Torres sending Rowand to the bench was the best thing ever. Too bad his struggles gave Rowand so many ABs this year.

        Due to the ADHD issues and the batting woes, I think its reasonable to pursue other options, but Torres as a backup plan is legit. Like you stated, he has a ton of value as a 4th OF just with his defense and his baserunning. He might not get back to 2010 value, but the small chance he might is worth the shot alone. I will admit he has a lot of problems with the curve balls and had some strange moments on the basepaths in 2011.

        Good point about Sizemore being a unique case. I think they should definitely try, I just think he’ll get expensive quick. Great blog btw.

    • How about Huff and Burl coming to the Giants on one year deals ? The memory loss of some people maake me think I could do fine outside of my resthome.

  3. Athletes such as Amare Stoudemire and Steve Yzerman have successfully recovered from microfracture surgery and returned to form in other sports. Given that the stress put on the knee could be considered even greater in sports like Basketball and Hockey, I think the chances of a recovery are certainly there. Ultimately, though, it will depend on Sizemore’s own body.

    I think a one year flier could be something to consider, but I’m not sure I’d want to rely on him and Torres if there’s no other real top of the order player on the roster. The Giants badly needed a lead-off hitter last year, and they never really had one that could be counted on game in and game out. Sizemore may not be a lead-off hitter anymore, and Torres would have to match his anomalous 2010 season to be an effective table-setter.

    That said, a healthy Sizemore would be far more interesting than Coco Crisp, who I think is overvalued a bit, similarly to how Juan Pierre has always been overvalued.

    • I’m not surprised there are examples of players who have come back from microfracture surgery. I can point to at least a couple others who did not, Greg Oden and Chad Tracy. I’d like to see a list of athletes who have undergone the procedure. Until then, color me skeptical.

  4. I’ve always been a Grady Sizemore fan. I hear he’s a great clubhouse guy. If he could make a comeback from his injury, he would be a great addition. He hits a lot to the opposite field and has some pop in his bat, along with speed.

  5. NOOOOO Don’t do it, unless it’s the major league minimum loaded with incentives. Even with that I don’t like it. I think going after Coco Crisp is a much better and safer option, besides I love the name.

  6. Sizemore is a mu ch better risk than Crisp, And Torres is a journeyman, we all know that. He was decent, but it is already time to move on. Sizemore was a top 25 player when he was healthy, who knows the potential impact he could have here.

  7. Yes, Sizemore is a huge risk with his injury history, but his age is one factor in his favor, unlike a lot of shortstops, backup infielders and stopgap plugs that Sabean has recently brought in. I would rather gamble on a young player, than an old player if both had spotty injury pasts, mostly because youth heals quicker.A one year flyer cannot be any worse than throwing money at Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand.

  8. Delmond Young may be non-tendered. The same guy Sabean was considering trading for in exchange for Timmy. If he is non-tendered, I think the Giants will definitely look into that option.

  9. IF you have to be conservative and are “afraid ‘ of going outside Cody Ross is your center fielder …Andres Torres for all his speed is still a .250 hitter as is Crisp at least Ross has more pop..Forget Beltran and stop trying to make Belt a left fielder..the giraffe thing does apply in the outfield…get a solid backup for Posey and an outfielder with a bat and I think we’re set with our pitching……

  10. Pingback: Let the Offseason Begin » Giants Nirvana | SF Giants Blog

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