COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox have added a familiar and intriguing player to their roster in time for the start of the upcoming spring training.
According to a report by WEEI.com's Rob Bradford and Alex Speier, the team signed 31-year-old veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year major league deal worth $750,000 that could be worth as much as an additional $5.25 million in incentives.
In eight major league seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the left-handed throwing and hitting Sizemore has hit a combined .269 with 139 home runs, 458 RBIs and 134 stolen bases in 892 games.
His best years came between 2005 and 2008 when he averaged .281, 27 home runs, 81 RBIs, 116 runs scored and 29 stolen bases per season while missing just nine games total.
Once regarded as a rising star with five-tool potential, he last played in 2011 because of microfracture surgery on his knee. That year, he was able to appear in only 71 games, hitting .224 with 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and no steals.
Coming back from such a serious injury and having not played in over a year make his value a relative unknown as camp is about to break.
However, here are three ways his signing could impact the team:
Allow Jackie Bradley Jr. to break in slowly, or even start the year in the minors: Previously, center-field depth looked a little shallow with 23-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. the anticipated starter, and right fielder Shane Victorino as the most likely backup.
Bradley is one of the most highly regarded prospects in the game, according to Baseball America. The left-handed hitter made his major league debut last year through multiple stints. All told, he appeared in 37 games for Boston, hitting .189 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
While Bradley didn't appear ready for primetime last season, hopes are high this year. He is an on-base machine (.404 OBP in three minor league seasons) and a strong defender. However, the presence of an effective Sizemore could potentially help alleviate any pressure of needing to be ready now.
If Sizemore is healthy, makes the team and is even a fraction of his former self, he could split time in center with Bradley, or if needed allow the younger player to start the season in the minors.
Give the Red Sox too many outfielders: If Sizemore makes the team, something would have to give because of the glut of outfielders it would create.
In addition to Sizemore, the Red Sox have Victorino, Bradley, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp. Although Carp and Nava can both play first base, it would seemingly be difficult to keep six players on the roster whose primary position is that of outfield.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that assuming everyone is healthy, a spring trade could happen, with Carp being possible.
On the other hand, both Bradley and Sizemore could start the year in the minors if needed.
Even if Bradley does start the year in the minors, it's hard to imagine he could be kept there long given his potential and likelihood he is ready for major league duty.
If Sizemore sticks on the roster and everyone is healthy, there's a good chance it will create a logjam, with a trade being a likely way to clear room.
No impact: The Red Sox expressed a lot of confidence in Sizemore by signing him to a major league deal. However, there is a possibility that in the end, he won't have any impact on the team.
Coming off a serious injury that prevented him from last playing in a game on September 22, 2011, it's entirely possible he won't make the team or won't have enough left in the tank to truly leave his mark.
However, the Red Sox are optimistic that they have a player who is on the way back physically and will be able to help this season. Manager John Farrell, appearing at the team's annual Town Hall, spoke about his new outfielder, according to a separate article by Bradford.
"I know he's running right now," the skipper said. "Whether there's been a lot of work with change of direction, I think that's the next step in his progression. But straight away speed, it feels like he's at 90, 90-plus percent. He's swinging the bat every day, he's thrown.
"The one thing he hasn't done in a couple of years has been on the field for any length of time, or reps had in center field or at the plate. We feel like he's making good progress health-wise, otherwise we wouldn't have signed him to the deal we did."
Sizemore is still young enough where a successful comeback isn't out of the question. It's just that the nature of his injury and his long layoff will make it an uphill challenge, especially trying to break through to win a spot on the talented Boston roster, which is composed largely of returners who won the 2013 World Series.
The proof will be in the pudding once workouts, practices and games start up. It will be great if the outfielder can get his career back on track, but the odds of him creating an impact appear to be stacked against him.
Conclusion: It's great to see a talented player like Sizemore trying to continue his career after experiencing adversity. It remains to be seen if he will be able to make the Red Sox, but in looking at all the possibilities, there are a number of ways he could impact the team going forward.Statistics obtained from Yahoo MLB Stats and Baseball-Reference.com.
In addition to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written extensively for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports (particularly the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots). He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
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