Seattle Mariners Free Agent Candidate: Grady Sizemore

Grady Sizemore, CF/OF

Bats: Left, Throws: Left

6-2, 200 lbs

29 years old

 

What we like:

Six-tool player, including plate discipline

Local guy that got away

Left-handed, skilled hitter

Can play all outfield positions well

 

What we don’t like:

Hasn’t been healthy for three years

As such, hasn’t been productive

 

Sizemore has been a player of interest for Mariners fans for a long time. Before the Mariners traded for the man to his left—Franklin Gutierrez, who played with Sizemore in Cleveland—it seemed like a logical fit for the Mariners eventually. In fact, Sizemore makes so much sense in Seattle, it almost felt like his whole career was the aftermath of some Bill Bavasi disaster trade (not that there hadn’t been any of those that went to Cleveland).

Anyways, there is one major caveat in the way of Sizemore becoming a productive member of the Mariners, especially now that we know that Cleveland has declined his option, which is Sizemore’s health.

Sizemore had been pretty healthy until 2009, when an early season groin injury made him miss some games, and then elbow surgery cut his 2009 short.

In 2010, Sizemore had microfracture surgery after barely a month.

Sizemore’s 2011 was cut short by another knee injury, and underwent surgery for a sports hernia while on the disabled list, and had another knee surgery October 4.

It appears that Sizemore will be ready for opening day, but perhaps recovery isn’t good enough. Perhaps Sizemore has seen his best days pass him by, and at only 29 years old he has lost a step.

From 2006-2008, Sizemore raked fastballs. He averaged close to 30 runs above replacement per season on the pitch, and looked to be one of the future superstars of MLB in the making. It appears that injuries may have changed that. Though Sizemore’s BABIP suggests that he’s been statistically unlucky for his last 838 plate appearances, it may be that his struggles against fastballs have been the culprit. The last three years, which is how long it took to compile the plate appearances, Sizemore’s  hit fastballs to the tune of 7.5 RAR—combined.

Any team looking to acquire Sizemore must first determine if they believe that his struggles are as a result of poor health, or career regression. If one were to pick out the most critical body part for a five-tool player, his knees would likely rank at or near the top. A lot of Sizemore’s game could be hindered if his knee isn’t healthy, and it appears that the affects may not be limited to his speed.

However, if he is fully healthy, his price tag figures to be much higher than if he’s not, so perhaps it is in a team’s best interest to take a low-risk gamble on a fragile Sizemore than a larger commitment to a more sure thing, or on Sizemore, if his health is better, but less than perfect.

Given all that, Sizemore may be in line to become a ranked free agent with even moderate success in 2012 (assuming the new CBA includes such a system). For the right price, Sizemore makes a lot of sense in some sort of corner outfield platoon role, and as a guy that can give Gutierrez a day off in center on occasion.