Left field is traditionally a power position, yet Pat Burrell is the only free agent who hit 20 home runs in 2010. The Rays, Tigers, Angels, Braves, Reds, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants may be looking for help at the position. Let's break down the free agents.
The Big Name
Carl Crawford's name will be all over this website for the next several months. Here's our stock watch post on him. Crawford is so good that teams I did not name above, such as the Red Sox and Yankees, are expected to at least kick the tires.
Burrell put himself back into the "solid regular" conversation by hitting .266/.364/.509 with 18 home runs in 341 plate appearances after signing with the Giants. There could be one other left field 20 home run bat available if the Twins choose Jason Kubel's $350K buyout over his $5.25MM club option, but I think they'll pick up the option.
Aside from Crawford, Jonny Gomes and Scott Podsednik were the only other free agents to log at least 1,000 innings in left field this year. Gomes, who has a $1.75MM club option with a $200K buyout, is a decent source of power. Podsednik's game is all about speed; he has the ability to void the Dodgers' $2MM option.
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Useful Bench Bats
Andruw Jones, Bill Hall, Marcus Thames, Austin Kearns, and Corey Patterson all played 100+ innings in left this year and had their moments. Thames and Jones were particularly useful offensively. Willie Harris, Jeremy Hermida, Randy Winn, and Reed Johnson will also be vying for utility roles.
Scott Hairston, Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, Conor Jackson, and Ryan Langerhans are among the left fielders who may be non-tendered on December 2nd. Laynce Nix and Lastings Milledge are candidates as well, but were useful enough to be tendered contracts for 2011. Hairston, Diaz, and Cabrera were quality players in 2009, but they'll have to earn their playing time.
For teams that don't have $100MM for Crawford, the free agent market for left fielders is weak. Burrell, Gomes, and Podsednik may find regular left field work, while Manny and Damon may still dabble at the position.