The Phillies currently have 12 players on their 40-man roster in flux. There are four outright free agents, six arbitration eligible players, and a pair of players with options. We will review each of the 12 players starting today, reviewing the case to either re-sign the player, the case to release the player, and the final verdict of what the Phillies should do for the 2015 season.
The Boston Red Sox took a gamble by signing former three-time All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore for $750,000. Sizemore, then 31 and out of Major League Baseball since 2011, made the Red Sox as their starting center fielder and excited Boston fans by hitting a homer in his first game with the team. After a fast start (.343/.395/.571 in his first ten games), Sizemore slowed down significantly, hitting .187/.263/.267 with no homers from April 15 through his release following the June 15 game.
Sizemore would sign with the Phillies on June 24 and, once again, got off to a fast start. From his debut with the Phillies on July 11 through August 8, Sizemore hit .329/.367/.447 with a homer and seven doubles. Just like his stint with the Sox, however, Sizemore would hit just .169/.256/.325 from August 9 through September 28.
The Case For
A look through Sizemore’s Baseball Reference comparable players looks like a Who’s Who of Hall of Fame and All Star outfielders. Through ages 22 and 23, the most comparable player to Sizemore was Duke Snyder. Through ages 25 and 26? Barry Bonds. His overall similarity scores, based largely on his three All-Star seasons, say the most comparable players to Sizemore are Alex Gordon and Justin Upton. Sizmore still has the talent to be at least an average baseball player, with flashes of unsustained above-averageness.
The Case Against
Sizemore, after two hot starts with two teams, slowed down pretty quickly. Sizemore always struck out quite a bit but he has now seemingly lost his ability to draw walks, drawing a walk less than 10% of the time for the first time in a full season since he exhausted his rookie eligibility in 2005. Additionally, Sizemore’s defense has deteriorated significantly. At a worth of -10.7 runs per FanGraphs, Sizemore ranked 229th out of 254 outfielders in defense in a part-time role. Via a measure that is accumulated, and gets better or worse based largely on playing time, Sizemore’s defensive shortcomings were pretty impressive in a bad way.
Sizemore will likely get a deal somewhere around $3-4 million a year to be a fourth outfielder or a starter on a second-tier team. That team should not be the Phillies. Sizemore’s entire 2014 sample paints a picture of a replacement-level player who, at times, showed flashes of being able to hit extra base hits. That description also fits a player like John Mayberry Jr. With Sizemore’s inconsistencies and his potential price tag, this one is an easy pass.