Trade Market For Center Fielders

After Coco Crisp and Jayson Werth, the free agent market for center fielders is barren.  The Royals, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, and Padres may be looking for help at the position; let's see what the trade market offers.

Star Potential

Three potential stars, all 26 or younger, have surfaced in the rumor mill: Colby Rasmus, Matt Kemp, and B.J. Upton

Rasmus is seemingly untouchable after a .276/.361/.498 performance at age 23.  Though Rasmus requested a trade earlier this year, GM John Mozeliak said on September 26th, "I can assure you, Colby's not going to be traded."  It was reported on October 6th that multiple teams are preparing a push for Rasmus anyway, but I expect Mozeliak to keep his word.

Kemp, signed through '11 and under team control through '12, slumped to .249/.310/.450 with apparently poor defense this year.  Dodgers GM Ned Colletti wasn't as firm as Mozeliak was about Rasmus, but Colletti's October 2nd comments to ESPN's Buster Olney indicate Kemp's also staying put.  Colletti said he'll listen on any player, "But there's not going to be any shopping on our part.  I view all of our core younger guys as people who are going to be here for a while."  It appears the Nationals will kick the tires.

Upton has not been able to match his offensive production of 2007-08, but he still adds value defensively.  He'll earn more than $3MM as a second-time arbitration eligible player, but even the cost-conscious Rays might prefer to keep him given Carl Crawford's expected departure.  Highly-regarded prospect Desmond Jennings has mostly played center in his career, so he could replace Upton if necessary.

Crawford Consequences

Should the Yankees or Red Sox win the bidding for Crawford, a center fielder could become available.  The Sox have Mike Cameron ($7.25MM for '11) and Jacoby Ellsbury (team control through '13), while the Yankees have Curtis Granderson ($20.25MM through '12) and Brett Gardner (team control through '14).  Darnell McDonald, who logged 450.6 center field innings for the Sox this year, could also be trade bait if a logjam develops.

Veterans Under Contract

Carlos Beltran ($18.5MM), Grady Sizemore ($8MM), Kosuke Fukudome ($13.5MM), Nate McLouth ($7.75MM), and Skip Schumaker ($2.7MM) are all signed through next season, with Schumaker arbitration eligible after that and the rest heading toward free agency.  Aaron Rowand is owed $24MM through '12.  Beltran and Sizemore must prove their health, though the former played a half-season and came alive in the final month.  Fukudome and Schumaker were not primarily center fielders this year.  McLouth and Rowand were major negatives offensively.

Possibly Expendable

Nyjer Morgan, Rajai Davis, and Jordan Schafer could be viewed as expendable by the Nationals, Athletics, and Braves.  Morgan's future may depend on whether the Nationals add an outfielder, while Davis' could rest on Coco Crisp's option and the team's corner outfield alternatives.  Schafer, the Braves' 2009 Opening Day center fielder, had a lost year partially due to wrist problems.

Non-Tender Candidates

Tony Gwynn, Scott Hairston, Reggie Willits, and Dewayne Wise could be on the non-tender bubble come December 2nd, and therefore might be trade candidates.  You wouldn't consider any of these players a starting center fielder, though.


Rasmus and Kemp may be nearly impossible to pry loose, but the trade market for center fielders still offers more promise than the available free agents.  Clubs willing to gamble on well-paid health risks will have more options.

Full Story | 60 Comments | Categories: Trade Market

60 Responses to Trade Market For Center Fielders Leave a Reply

  1. daveineg 5 years ago

    Can’t quite understand how Carlos Gomez wasn’t listed as expendable.

  2. RedSox2219 5 years ago

    I’d give away Cameron at this point. As long as someone took the contract which is highly unlikely.

  3. Theeeere’s the article I thought I was reading earlier haha. Do you think Ellsbury’s name pops up regardless of which outfielder the Sox sign (Crawford or Werth – I think they’ll definitely sign one)? I actually think Werth is a better fit in terms of what the Sox need (more of a power bat, obviously), and he, Kalish, Mike Cameron, and JD Drew would have the flexibility to play center if Ellsbury is traded. I haven’t given up on Mike Cameron, either. I think if he stays healthy, he produces at the level we know he’s capable of (including his stellar D).

    • johnsilver 5 years ago

      Jason Werth = RH version of JD drew, only a worse and shorter track record, plus cost tons more cash. Needs to be avoided like the plaque and whoever tosses 75-100m at him will regret it soon.

      • Avoided like the plaque? Did your dentist put you up to this?

      • He plays great D (career UZR/150 of 10.3 for ALL OF positions) with a fantastic arm, takes a lot pitches (.388 OBP this year and .367 career), hits for power (average of 29 HR/yr the past 3 years and a .532 SLG% this year) and average (.296 this year, though his BABIP suggests a regression to something closer to .275-.280), and has good speed (18 SB/yr the past 3 years).I don’t think there’s any reason to expect a regression in Werth’s level of play. He fits the mold of players that Theo Epstein covets, and I expect the Sox to make a strong push for him.

        • johnsilver 5 years ago

          Sound like JD Drew before Boston gave him 5/70M? look at the career OBP, look at the power numbers even. OPS, BB.. Defensively? Drew is just as good with that arm and Drew plays RF in one of the toughest in the game.. it’s a bad omen for whoever is going to give this guy 5/70M++ is all am saying here, not that the guy is an awful player, just NOT a 15m player, exactly like JD Drew is not, nor ever was not.

          • Agree to disagree. I wouldn’t say their careers are mirror images in the least….you are using random similarities to imply that their career paths will be the same. That’s a bold statement. Lots of players have similar tools/stats/etc….doesn’t mean because one guy didn’t live up to his contract (and I actually find Drew to be generally undervalued outside of this year’s performance, as does Theo) that another won’t.

          • look at Jayson Werth’s Home/Road splits bro… He’s not the player you think he is. Someone is going to be very, very, VERY, disappointed.

          • PabloFTW 5 years ago

            Actually Werth’s Home/Road splits aren’t bad in the least. He hits better at home, like most players, but is still an above average hitter on the road. He has a career 867/832 ops home/road split. So no, he’s a perfectly good hitter on the road.

            I also think Drew actually turned in solid years for the Sox and looking at fangraphs, they seem to think his playing value has about justified his pay making it at least a decent signing.

      • phil33 5 years ago

        I hope your right about him, but I can’t agree. My Phillies are gonna miss him a lot. His RISP is terrible and he has mental lapses. His speed is probably his best attribute, which will be gone by the end of his contract. However, the guy is a really well rounded player. Hes good on the base paths, hes got power, and hes underated as a fielder who can play right or left. Not saying hes a great player, but if he gets significantly less than Crawford, the team that gets him is the better for it. I say this as someone who has never been a fan of him since he first came to philly and has contrinually ripped him.

  4. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    Schafer seems like a nice buy low, “hope the former prospect works out in another organization”- type player. I’d also check in on Sizemore and see if the Indians would sell low.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      I hadn’t been following him, but I’m amazed at how low his stock has dropped. Funny, 1 year ago Braves fans thought they had the 2nd coming of christ…Now his name is mentioned in the same sentance as Nyjer Morgan. Not good.

      • bbxxj 5 years ago

        That’s what happens when a hitter breaks his wrist… If Schafer can ever get healthy I want him in Atlanta.

  5. thelaser69 5 years ago

    I was going to mention Gomez, though seeing as his price will likely be low, and Melvin’s “patience” attitude, I think he’ll be in Milwaukee come April. I think if a team wanted him as part of a package in return for pitching, he’d be gone in a heartbeat. One has to see Cain as the CF of the future in Milwaukee.

  6. derekbellstutu 5 years ago

    I can’t believe Andrew McCutchen wasn’t listed as a possible non-tender candidate. What has he done lately?

    All kidding aside, I’d love to see the Red Sox sign Carl Crawford if it makes Jacoby Ellsbury available. Ellsbury’s value is low right now, so I think the Pirates could acquire him fairly cheap. Red Sox management and Ellsbury were at odds during the season over his broken ribs and some of his teammates questioned his dedication. Maybe it would be best for the Red Sox & Ellsbury if they part ways.

    Yes, the Sox could cut Mike Cameron and keep Ellsbury should they sign Crawford, but they won’t get anything for Cameron and still have to pay his 2011 salary of $7.25M. The Sox would be better off getting something for Ellsbury than paying Cameron to go away.

    One last thought: How sick would the Pirates outfield be w/ Ellsbury in left, McCutchen in center, and Tabata in right?!

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      What about Mike Cameron for Raul Ibanez?

      • derekbellstutu 5 years ago

        Ibanez’s salary for 2011 is roughly $4M more than Cameron, so I don’t think a Cameron for Ibanez straight up deal would benefit Boston.

        • roberty 5 years ago

          Ibanez is a lot more likely to be healthy enough to contribute. You would rather pay a guy $7 million to sit on the DL for 3/4 of the year?

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            He had a kidney stone that led to a abdominal tear. You can’t say it is an indication of things to come. It would kinda be like saying Ellsbury is less likely to contribute because he broke two ribs this year.

      • roberty 5 years ago

        What about Mike Cameron for Nate McLouth?

        • Useless CFer who’s always injured for useless CFer that can’t hit?

          • jwredsox 5 years ago

            always injured? Guy was always consistently near 140 games until this year when he got a kidney stone that led to a abdominal tear. Seems pretty flukish to me. Don’t get me wrong his value is low but he isn’t always injured.

    • fitz 5 years ago

      I don’t want the Sox to deal Ellsbury I don’t think there is really any reason to do so (Though Jacoby on the Pirates would be cool- they already have an exciting young team). Who knows how serious the rift between him and management really was last season but assuming Beltre doesn’t come back and collide with him he should be fine. I hope the Sox keep him.

      • I’d like to see the Reds inquire about Ellsbury. The Red Sox have an uncertain future at 1B and the Reds have a future MLB 1B blocked by Votto in Alonso. I don’t know what it would take to get Ellsbury but I sure would enjoy seeing him out in LF (we have Stubbs in CF and hopefully this helps Ellsbury avoid injury) and leading off for the Reds next year.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          If the Red Sox acquire Alonso, Ellsbury wouldn’t be nearly enough. And considering the Reds are clearly in the win now mode I doubt they want Kelly, in other words not happening… and don’t even think about asking “what about Votto.” Think more along the lines of blue chip mlb ready prospect to get Alonso.

          • I’m confused. So you are saying the Reds would need more than Ellsbury back in return for Alonso? Because I would think the Reds would take that deal one for one. Alonso serves no purpose in the Reds chase for the playoffs. He will be used to acquire something we need like a good leadoff hitter such as Ellsbury.

            If Ellsbury is healthy he can be the effective leadoff hitter the Reds lack to set the table for Votto. Ellsbury is a career .291 hitter with the ability to swipe 50+ bags a year and he is doing this all in the AL east. Imagine what he would do in the NL central.

            I’m a Reds fan, Votto isn’t going anywhere. I think you had me confused as a Red Sox fan.

          • Alonso is one of the top-tier prospects in the game.

            No way the Reds would give him up for just Ellsbury.

            I’d think something like Ellsbury and Bard would get it done, though.

          • Maybe Alonso is not the right choice here to trade for Ellsbury. Maybe Juan Fransisco is a little more reasonable. He’s a 3B/DH/1B type with monster power but not as highly regarded as Alonso.

            Save Alonso to acquire a stud pitcher at the deadline

          • RedSoxDynasty 5 years ago

            A top tier 1B prospect with little power? Ok! Ellsbury is gonna stay in Boston next year and be one of the top leadoff men/ cf in the game again! Maybe the Sox should trade Lars Anderson for Jay Bruce, who dramatically underperformed last year? Makes more sense than your ridiculous Ells/Bard for the cincy version of Mark Grace! Lol!

          • baseballz 5 years ago

            Is it just me, or am I the only one who thinks that all of these broken ribs are going to slow Ellsbury down ? 50 sb ? , I really don’t think so, he’s going to be very hesitant to go slidding into 2nd head first in case he injures himself again. For anyone who’s broke their ribs, you are much more likely to break them again as opposed to someone who has never broke them. Also, another lost season and he’s going to be known as injury prone and Boston will be lucky to get someone like Alonso for him.

          • Alonso has more than a little power. Jay Bruce hit .281 last year with 25 HR and 70 RBIs so he did not under perform. But I think Alonso for Ellsbury would be fair considering your log jam in the outfield especially after you sign Werth or Crawford, and our log jam at 1B

    • wkkortas 5 years ago

      He’s a .700 OPS guy away from Fenway. That doesn’t constitute corner production or much of an upgrade over Milledge.

    • wkkortas 5 years ago

      Ellsbury’s a .700 OPS guy away from Fenway; that’s not corner-outfielder production, and it’s not much of an upgrade over Milledge.

  7. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    Hey Tim, I understand Sizemore isn’t in the age group that Upton, Rasmus, and Kemp are in, but Would you really call Sizemore a veteran? Still 27-28 with tons of bat, speed and glove left in him if only he can stay healthy.

    • Sleepykarl 5 years ago

      Veteran doesn’t mean they are old and over the hill. Sizemore is going into his 8th year in the majors, that is a veteran.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      Sizemore is a very interesting case.

      He’s been injured for virutatlly a year and a half straight now. Got hurt in spring training which is what many believe zapped his power this year. Even with a bum elbow in 2009 he managed over 15 HRs and nearly 20 steals.

      He’s got a team option for 2012….however, it becomes a player option if traded. Grady is probably a more likely candidate to be traded next winter. Hopefully he has a bounceback year (he’s my early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year award in the AL) and regains his trade value. Tribe can then pick up his option and trade him so that the team getting him has at least 1 full year of contralability.

      Will say this…..wonder if a Grady and Cord Phelps (or Jason Donald) for Matt Kemp and Casey Blake could work this winter (or something along these lines). If Kemp is really an issue in the clubhouse (I don’t think he really is that much but you never know) then maybe it’d be beneficial to part with him if you’re the Dodgers. Moving Blake frees up a lot of cash plus his buyout for 2012. All in all they’d save around $4M. Probably not enough to part with Kemp even getting an equally as good OFer (when healthy) and nice 2B/3B prospect. Maybe toss in one of the the depth starters at AAA.

      Not happening of course. As ssaid, don’t see Grady getting traded til winter of 2011-2012….but crazier things have happened I guess.

  8. BlueCatuli 5 years ago

    I see Fukudome playin in DC next year.

    Tim, why no Marlon Byrd on that list? Money, years, reluctance from te Cubs? I’d have to think teams would inquire. The Cubs could easily compete in the NLC next season with him, but lookin long term he might be a good trade chip for them.

    • roberty 5 years ago

      I think the only way Fukudome is leaving Chicago is if Hendry eats the bulk of his salary. I don’t see the Nats picking up the tab.

      I really wish The Braves could get their hands on Byrd, but he is one of the only reasonable contracts the Cubs have. I doubt they will move him, of course, he is also one of the only tradeable contracts they have as well.

  9. Fangaffes 5 years ago

    Pretty sure Mike Cameron is available, whether the Sox get Crawford or not. They need to reduce the glut of outfielders and make some space for Kalish.

  10. MLB_in_the_Know 5 years ago

    Does anyone else see Alex Rios as a dark-horse trade candidate?

    I think the Ozzy might cash in on his waiver claim and trade Rios for some very good prospects/major league players while his value is really high after a solid season and a sellers market for CF.

    • jwsox 5 years ago

      ozzie has nothing to do with waiver claims that all kenny first off….secondly he was the second best offensive player on the sox last season, with the uncertainty of a konerko return there is no way they let rios go…the only way i could see it hapening is if it were for colby rasmus…….Rios hits for avg, power, has speed and a great glove in Cf…he is not going anywhere and shouldnt…there is no way he gets traded

  11. clark182 5 years ago

    I would love to see the Cubs try to get Ellsbury. He would be a great fit for the Cubs providing them with their first legit top of the order bat since Kenny Lofton. At 27 and with Castro slotted in the 2 hole, the Cubs would have a nice 1-2 combination for a number of years.

    • BlueCatuli 5 years ago

      I think the Cubs and Sox could actually match up on an Ellsbury deal. I’d have to look at what the Sox need/ want and what the Cubs have. Whether it happens is another thing.

      • clark182 5 years ago

        I don’t know what a potential deal would look like, but the Cubs need someone at the top of the order. I’m tired of experimenting with players like Colvin, Dewitt, etc. Other than Castro, Archer, McNutt, Bjax, and HJ Lee, there wouldn’t be anyone on the Cubs major or minor league roster I would be unwilling to consider in a potential deal.

        • BlueCatuli 5 years ago

          Id be pretty adamant about not dealing Soto. The Cubs get good offensive production from his poison and it would be difficult to replace.

          • clark182 5 years ago

            I agree it would be hard to move Soto and if the Red Sox wanted him it would take much more than Ellsbury to get him, but he would not be untouchable in my opinion. He’ll be 28 next year and catchers tend to break down quickly. With Castillo and Chirinos in the minors the Cubs look to have some positional depth at C. Obviously they won’t replace Soto’s offensive production, but in addition to Ellsbury if you could get 2 pieces that help you 1-2 years down the road it might make sense.

  12. mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

    The Indians need decent outfielders in the worst way. Choo than Who? is playing out there right now. Who knows what kind of player Sizemore is going to be going forward?

    Two possible low cost candidates that could help them a great deal would be Nyjer Morgan or Rajai Davis. I hope they look into it.

    • NorCalTribeFan 5 years ago

      The Indians don’t really need an outfielder this winter. Brantley was quite productive in the second half (he hit .284 after coming back up from AAA) and it would be silly for them to go for a center fielder with Grady Sizemore coming back. Will he be injured again? Who can say, but they aren’t going to put Nyjer Morgan ahead of Grady Sizemore or Michael Brantley. Now second and third base are a different story….

      • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

        Everything you said is true. I’m just concerned that Sizemore won’t be ready to start the season. I also wonder if he’s going to be the same player he used to be, and if he is, how long does it take him to get there? I think it would be prudent to bring in another experienced outfielder, not a high cost superstar, just a solid player. They’ll have plenty of use for one, especially a right handed one. If all goes well with Sizemore, they just do what they always do with their no longer useful depth options and trade the player. I’d rather it be someone better than Trevor Crowe as 4th outfielder.

        They should also look at Bill Hall as a temporary solution for 3rd/short/2nd base back up. The long term solution is at AA. They need a 3rd baseman for at least season, maybe 2.

        • NorCalTribeFan 5 years ago

          Bringing in one of those guys as a forth outfielder is possible. The only limitation is roster space. The Indians have a number of young players with potential and they have to protect those guys. This may mean signing a minor league free agent for the forth outfielder position like they did last year with Duncan and Kearns.

          As far as second and third are concerned, Bill Hall is the kind of player they need to fill the hole for Chisenhall and also give them flexibility, I would just rather they found someone younger, possibly through the rule five draft.

          I think their main goal this winter will be to find a veteran starter who needs a place to resurrect his career. Javier Vazquez apparently is going to Washington. Vicente Padilla, Kevin Corriea and Chris Capuano all come to mind, although none of those guys inspire excitement. We’ll have to see who the non-tenders are.

  13. niched 5 years ago

    Wait, how does Crawford affect the CF situation in NY or Boston? Crawford has been a left fielder for awhile now. Would the Yankees or Red Sox prefer him in CF rather than replacing their current left fielders (currently a platoon situation in Boston with Gardner getting most of the action in New York)? Neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees have top players in left. Would Crawford mind getting moved to center field?

  14. j6takish 5 years ago

    What about David DeJesus? He has started more than a few games in center field. Injured or not, I’m betting a lot of teams will be calling about him

  15. baseballz 5 years ago

    Hey, whatever happened to Reggie Willits ? When he was playing regularly he was a great leadoff guy. He was very fast, played good D, and got on base at a very good clip. For the Jays I would love to get Willits and see what he could do; put him in center, Wells in left, and Bautista in right, that would be a very good outfield and Willits would give us a leadoff hitter. AA get it done, even on a minor league deal if he’s realeased, he would be a quality guy to at least invite to spring training.

  16. bobbybaseball 5 years ago

    Um…not to be picky with you Tim, but Werth is not really a centerfielder. Yes he can play it but his value defensively declines greatly. I doubt a team would sink $15M+ per year over 4-5 years and play him out of position. Just sayin’…

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