Free Agent Analysis: Grady Sizemore, Erik Bedard, David DeJesus and Paul Maholm
2011 Stats: .224/.285/.422, 10 Home Runs, 88 wRC+, .302 wOBA, .198 ISO, 0.2 WAR
The 29-year-old former Indians center fielder can’t play center anymore because of surgeries on both of his knees in recent years. Those injuries have affected his production at the plate. He collected only 435 plate appearances over the last two seasons, hitting only 10 home runs and producing a line of .220/.280/.379.
Sizemore does not have the same speed he once had, as he did not steal a base in 2011. He is best suited to be a corner outfielder now, but left field might be his best position, since his arm has never been particularly effective.
Despite all the negatives, Sizemore has the ability to be a two-three win type of player if he can stay healthy. His 12.7 HR/FB ratio in 2011 was 12.7 percent, the third best ratio of his career. He has a 10.6 percent career walk rate despite a career low rate of 6.1 percent in 2011. He could prove to be an above-average defender in the corner spots, and I would not be surprised to see a .255/.350/.430 line with 20 home runs if he can get more than 500 plate appearances.
Apparently, many other teams think that Sizemore can still produce. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnik reports there are eight teams interested, including the Yankees, Phillies, A’s, Rockies, Cubs, Rangers, Giants, Red Sox and Indians. Those are all possibilities, but I think the Cubs are the best fit.
2011 Stats: 3.62 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 1.28 WHIP, 8.70 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 2.4 WAR
The 31-year-old left-handed starter made 24 starts in 2011 and threw for 129.1 innings, his highest total since 2007. Bedard's inability to stay healthy cost him the entire 2010 season and most of his 2008-2009 seasons.
However, he proved last year that he still has the ability to miss bats, and his 8.70 K/9 was the third best strikeout rate of his career. His fastball averaged 90.8 mph, down slightly from his top seasons, but his best pitch remains his 12-6 curveball that he throws close to a third of the time. In addition, he will feature a change-up (78.2 mph) to right-handed hitters. His fastball command will come and go from start to start, but his 3.34 BB/9 was his lowest since 2007.
Bedard was worth just about $10 million this season despite making only 24 starts, and is definitely worth a gamble on an incentive-based deal. If a team can get 20 starts out of him, he is definitely worth the risk, considering he will probably post an ERA close to 3.50.
Bedard’s injuries in 2011 were due to knee problems and his surgically-repaired shoulder responded well last season. His knee affected his production with the Red Sox in September and was part of the reason his walk rate increased from 2.96 to 4.10 BB/9 after he was acquired.
There hasn’t been much information concerning Bedard this offseason, but seeing he is Canadian and the Blue Jays need another back-of-the-rotation starter, Toronto seems like a good fit.
Prediction: Blue Jays
2011 Stats: .240/.323/.376, 10 Home Runs, 95 wRC+, .309 wOBA, .136 ISO, 4 Stolen Bases, 2.2 WAR
DeJesus had a terrible season at the plate in 2011, posting a career worst batting average and on-base percentage while playing right field for the A’s. A career high strikeout rate of 17 percent (as a regular) and career low BABIP (.274) contributed to the lower batting average. The increase in his strikeout number was accompanied by his highest swinging-strike rate since 2003 at 5.6 percent. In addition, his infield fly-ball rate of 10 percent was his highest since 2005 and could have contributed to his low BABIP, considering the Oakland Coliseum has the most foul territory.
DeJesus’ production slipped mostly because of his inability to hit LHP in 2011. In 133 plate appearances against them, he recorded a .171/.227/.231 line with a wRC+ of 27 and just one home run.
Despite the lack of production this past season, DeJesus still amassed 2.2 WAR, in part because of his above-average defense. He is best suited for left field because of his below-average arm, and he does not have enough speed to play center.
I expect DeJesus to bounce back with a line close to .280/.350/.420 with 8-10 home runs and a 2.5 WAR. His BABIP should be higher, and his swinging-strike rate indicates that his strikeout rate should be lower.
He would be a great fit for the Dodgers who could use the extra defensive help, and he could split time with Juan Rivera. The A’s are expected to offer him arbitration, so he could return, but I expect the Padres to land the 31-year-old. The Cubs could also be a possibility.
2011 Stats: 3.66 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 4.03 xFIP, 1.29 WHIP, 5.38 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 2.1 WAR
The 33-year-old left-handed starter does not have great stuff or record many strikeouts, but he is someone who can help a team with an above-average infield defense.
There were some warning signs in 2011: Maholm's 87.4 mph average fastball velocity was the lowest of his career, and he dealt with a shoulder problem in August that prematurely ended his season. His success this past season was aided by a .286 BABIP despite his 21.9 percent line-drive rate. He was able to induce ground balls and throw strikes. He has a career first pitch strike rate of 60.3 percent, and he has kept his walk rate below 3.02 BB/9 for the last five seasons.
Maholm will complement his fastball with a slider (81.7 mph), a slow curveball (72.7 mph) and a changeup (81.7 mph), but his slider (considered his second best pitch) was not as effective in 2011.
His swinging-strike rate of 5.7 percent was a career low, as his slider swing-and-miss rate dropped from 18 percent in 2010 to 11.4 percent in 2011. He has averaged 2.5 WAR over the last four seasons and the Pirates did not exercise his option for $10 million, which actually would have been a fair deal considering he has been worth $10.9 million a season over since 2008.
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