After the Cleveland Indians declined to exercise their 2012 option on him this weekend, free agent center fielder Grady Sizemore has received interest from several teams and is willing to play anywhere, his agent Joe Urbon said.
“He’s open to anything,” said Urbon, who is part of CAA Sports. “He’s not limiting his choices at all.”
The Nationals have not indicated if they will pursue Sizemore in free agency, but they have identified filling their need in center fielder as a top priority. Sizemore is one of the best, though riskiest, free agents available. Sizemore’s injury history is a significant issue – he has played in 210 games over the past three seasons. But Sizemore, 28, became one of the best players before injuries befell him in 2009.
Urbon said “a number of clubs” have contacted him with interest in Sizemore since Monday, when teams could begin limited contact with agents regarding other teams’ free agents.
Urbon did not feel at liberty to share which teams had contacted him about Sizemore, but “CAA has a solid relationship with Mike Rizzo and the Lerner family,” Urbon said. “I’ll leave it at that.” CAA represents several Nationals players, including Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, Drew Storen and Ross Detwiler.
For the past three seasons, injuries have derailed Sizemore’s once-electric career. From 2005 to 2008, he had more wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.com, than all but three major league players. Since 2009, he has hit .234/.314/.413 while fighting injuries to both knees and his lower abdominal muscles.
In choosing his next team, Sizemore wants a place he can prove himself again. He would prefer center field – the Nationals’ greatest area of need – but would play a corner position if that provided the best chance to play.
“He wants to have an opportunity that will allow him to show he’s still the elite player he’s been,” Urbon said. “In a perfect world, he’d love to play center field. You can’t ignore the fact that’s where he won two Gold Gloves, where he’s been a three-time all star. When healthy, he’s one of the best players in the game. But if he feels the best opportunity is for him play in a corner spot, then he has the ability to do that.”
Any team interested in Sizemore will need to be convinced he is, finally, healthy again. Sizemore is roughly four weeks removed from arthroscopy on his right knee to treat a bone bruise. Urbon suggested Sizemore did not give the bone bruise time to heal this season, which hurt his play and worsened the injury. He is on schedule with his recovery, which should be complete in another two to four weeks.
Sizemore’s situation has little precedent – a player becoming one of the game’s best by his mid-20s before suffering injuries and becoming a free agent before age 30. The risk in signing him would be significant, but so would the upside.