Yesterday, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweeted that the Texas Rangers are one of “a number” of teams that are interested in free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore. Morosi’s tweet listed seven clubs (Giants, Rangers, Rockies, Cubs, Red Sox, Mariners, and Nationals), but the Indians, who declined a $9 million club option of their centerfielder, are believed to also be interested in retaining his services.
The Rangers are in a unique position among Sizemore’s suitors. They don’t necessarily have a need for Sizemore, but his left handed bat would fit well in a right-handed heavy lineup. Sizemore has spent the overwhelming majority of his career in centerfield, and adding him to the club would allow for Josh Hamilton to spend more time in left, a move which would figure to help prevent some of the injuries that have hampered the reigning league MVP.
Sizemore comes with his own injury history, however, and would figure to be better suited for corner outfield duty going forward for the same reasons as Hamilton would, so I’m not sure this move would do anything significant for Texas.
On most nights, the Rangers will run David Murphy out in left and Mitch Moreland at first base. Adding Sizemore would probably mean a few more games at first base for Michael Young, with Moreland moving to the bench and Hamilton or Nelson Cruz seeing games at DH against right handed pitching.
It really isn’t a question of Sizemore replacing Murphy as much as it is Sizemore replacing Moreland. For their careers, Sizemore has posted an OPS of .891 versus right handed pitching and Murphy has been almost as effective, coming in at .835. Moreland, on the other hand, has an .806 career OPS versus right handers, but that numbers was just .783 in 2011.
While the regression that Moreland suffered last season is cause for alarm, Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine recently told MLBTR that he feels the performance of the first baseman was more injury-related than anything else. Moreland, according to Levine, was playing through wrist tendinitis last season.
Given Sizemore’s pre-injury track record, it would be silly to say that the Rangers couldn’t use his services. But given that Sizemore has played in only 210 of a possible 486 games over the past three seasons (and posted a paltry .234/.314/.414/.728 line over that span), you have to wonder if he would be worth the risk, even on a one-year contract.
The Rangers are in a position where they don’t need to add an impact bat. Yes, an upgrade over Moreland would be nice, but at this point, I’m not sold that Sizemore would be anything more than a higher-paid version of the same production. Even if you can get him at a discount, which I’m sure sure you could, committing even $5 million to this guy is a huge gamble.
Looking at it from Sizemore’s perspective, I don’t see a clear fit in Texas either. The former All-Star will be looking for a place where he can re-build his value and to do that, he’ll need a club that’s willing to give him an everyday role. Given the depth of the Rangers versus some of the other clubs on his list of suitors, there are more opportunities for at bats elsewhere. It is worth noting, however, that Sizemore has posted an .883 career OPS at Rangers Ballpark, making it one of his favorite places to hit.
To me, Sizemore seems like an option only if Texas can re-sign C.J. Wilson. If we assume that Wilson will get something North of $16 million per year, there won’t be much extra cash left over for an upgrade to Moreland. If Wilson elects to sign elsewhere, however, look for Texas to set their sights on a bigger bat to take Moreland’s place in the lineup.