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The Red Sox signed 31-year-old center fielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year $750,000 contract Wednesday. He has not set foot on a major league field since 2011. During that season his offensive stats were decent at .224/.285/.422 over 71 games. Since 2009, he has had a number of injuries preventing him from playing baseball, a recurring knee injury the most prevalent among them. Yes, he was a three-time All Star from 2006-2008, so when he is hot, he’s hot. Does he have anything left? Is this really the best the Red Sox can do to improve the 2014 outlook in center field?
Heir to the center field throne is Jackie Bradley Jr., and he needs help. He is a strong defensive player, but management is clearly uncertain about his offensive ability. They have every right to be concerned with the numbers he put up as a member of the major league team. Bradley’s line read a mediocre .189/.280/.337. In Pawtucket he was at the top of the offensive pack, but when he came up to play at Fenway it was a different story. Earlier in the off-season, the front office passed on many potential, slightly better, contenders to add depth to centerfield, namely Matt Kemp and Chris Young. I believe the Red Sox did not pull the trigger on Kemp and Young because they (and the rest of the world) are waiting for the Stephen Drew issue to be settled. The front office, and its fans, will not know whether Sizemore was a mistake until the season begins. I just do not see the value of choosing a fixer-upper.
The good news is that Sizemore’s contract is for one year. Additional good news comes in the form of versatile outfielders like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Daniel Nava at the major league level, and players like Bryce Brentz down on the farm. If we look at Sizemore as another guy that could play somewhere in the outfield for us, left, right or center, then it makes this deal a bit more tolerable. Open-mindedness seems to be key as we head into the 2014 pre-season.