November 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
The Indians declined Grady Sizemore’s $8.5m option, which has made him a free agent. Sizemore is certainly an interesting target for a team searching for an outfielder as he has the potential to be one of the game’s best overall players when healthy. He has not been anywhere close to that over the past few seasons, amassing a 1.9 fWAR in that span.
Sizemore will probably cost around $5m (rough estimate, I have been wrong in the past and will be wrong again in the future). He will most likely be signed to a one year deal ala Adrian Beltre and try to resurrect his career. Some team will take that risk on him, and I see it as a risk worth taking for a team strapped for cash. A team like the Braves could be a near ideal candidate for a player like Sizemore.
The Braves have no backup centerfielder, so signing him to start in left field gives the Braves the ability to have that backup centerfielder in a starting role. That gives the team the ability to keep all four players they currently have signed for the bench, and focus on signing a shortstop and backup shortstop.
The cost fits in the Braves’ payroll. A player like Willingham would be ideal due to his handedness, power, and consistency offensively. The contract for Willingham is a problem, as is the fact that a draft pick will be lost as compensation if the team signs him. Willingham stated he is looking for a three year deal. Personally, I do not know if I am comfortable having roughly 20% of the team’s 2014 payroll locked up between two aging all-bat right-handed batters (Uggla and Willingham).
Having Martin Prado gives the Braves insurance on Sizemore not returning to form or suffering from injuries. This is an important factor, and gives the Braves a bit of an edge that most teams likely lack. If the team is dead set on Prado not starting in the outfield if Sizemore fails, the trade market can be utilized at any point.
In terms of what to expect from Sizemore, it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint. He could put up a 5 win season, playing well offensively and having a solid defensive season in left field, or he could just as easily be forced to miss a plethora of games and be valueless by the first few weeks of the season. Sizemore is a risky asset at this point, but there may be no other team better suited to take on his risk than the Braves.