Center Field Options For The Nationals

Six days ago, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Nationals are searching for a center field upgrade.  They haven't talked to the Rays about B.J. Upton, but it's unlikely we'll see any significant trades in general until the second half of June anyway.  Which center fielders might be available this summer aside from Upton?  We won't consider those who will be eligible for free agency after the season, other than Sizemore.

  • Angel Pagan, Mets.  Pagan will be eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, so the Mets might not consider him their long-term answer in center field. Would Sandy Alderson be open to sending him to a division rival?  He's struggling so far in his second full season as a regular.
  • Marlon Byrd, Cubs.  Brett Jackson, perhaps the Cubs' top prospect, is primed to push Byrd aside soon.  Byrd, 33, is owed $6.5MM next year.  He might not be what the Nationals have in mind.
  • Matt Kemp, Dodgers.  The Dodgers can easily keep Kemp and Trayvon Robinson in the same outfield by moving Kemp to a corner.  I can't picture the Dodgers' ownership situation forcing a trade of Kemp, even if his salary exceeds $10MM next year before he hits free agency.  I could see a new owner agreeing to a mega-extension with Kemp, but if they can't find common ground perhaps he'd become available this winter.
  • Michael Bourn, Astros.  Bourn is a viable trade candidate.  The Scott Boras client is under team control through 2012 and earns $4.4MM this year.
  • Rajai Davis, Blue Jays.  The Jays are light on short-term alternatives without Davis – note that Corey Patterson is starting in center while Davis recovers from an ankle injury.  Still, I expect Alex Anthopoulos to keep an open mind.  Davis' contract will look team-friendly if he starts performing.
  • Julio Borbon, Rangers.  If the Rangers continue to gravitate toward David Murphy in center field and feel good longer-term about Engel Beltre and Leonys Martin, Borbon could be expendable.
  • Aaron Rowand, Giants.  Rowand is having a decent April, taking over in center when Andres Torres hit the DL.  However, the Giants would have to pick up almost all of the $22MM owed to him through 2012 to move him.
  • Grady Sizemore, Indians.  The first-place Indians hope to be thinking about adding rather than subtracting this July.  If things go wrong, Sizemore will be very attractive on the trade market, even though his 2012 option becomes a player option upon a trade.  For that reason, he may not be a fit for the Nationals even if he's made available.
  • Chris Denorfia, Padres.  He continues to play well in a fourth outfielder role, but perhaps he could be had.
  • Felix Pie, Orioles.  Pie is another fourth outfielder type who can handle center.  The Orioles need him around as a center field backup, but they'd have to listen if the Nationals made a solid offer.
  • Chris Heisey, Reds.  Heisey is a cost-effective left field option for the Reds, so he might be hard to pry loose.
  • Charlie Blackmon, Rockies.  The Rockies' #11 prospect could work his way into the right field mix, or the team could consider a trade.
  • Scott Cousins, Marlins.  Cousins ranked seventh among Marlins prospects heading into the season, according to Baseball America.  Right now he's needed by the Marlins as Chris Coghlan's center field backup, and he'll see increased playing time while Logan Morrison is out.  They may prefer to maintain the depth.  The Marlins did deal within the division with the Dan Uggla trade.
  • Mitch Maier, Royals.  Maier has played center field more than anywhere else.  The 28-year-old may have to settle for an extra outfielder job if he remains in Kansas City.
  • Torii Hunter, Angels.  What do the Angels do when Mike Trout is Major League ready?  Vernon Wells is probably immovable, so you have to wonder if they could trade Hunter.  Hunter is only under contract through 2012 though so it's quite possible they make it work without a deal.

As you can see, I can speculate on more than a dozen center field trade candidates.  However, some might not offer a clear upgrade over the Nationals' internal options.  At this point, Bourn and Upton seem like the most likely fits if they become available this year.


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77 Comments on "Center Field Options For The Nationals"


4 years 4 months ago

It is safe to say that the Angels will not be trading Torii Hunter.

ellisburks
4 years 4 months ago

Also, they need a center fielder.

4 years 4 months ago

What about that Peter Bourjos guy?

4 years 4 months ago

I would imagine most of these types are also targets for the Braves as a fourth outfielder type. With Chipper Jones’ injury they would be looking for one of the more reliable options, as in one who could start over a decent time span.

chaifetz10
4 years 4 months ago

If I were a Nat’s fan, I’d want Bourn. Gold Glove defense and a legit lead off hitter that they need…Espinos could bat second with Desmond hitting 6th or 7th.

johnsilver
4 years 4 months ago

Don’t forget CoCo crisp either if Oakland felt like moving him and there are very few CF around with his range + knowledge as per route taking ability of CF over the years in the game and he has the speed of a leadoff guy as well.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 4 months ago

No thanks

4 years 4 months ago

Im an astros fan and not that I want to see him go he should be available and shopped. Just the right price would be what matters because he is a stud in center.

JavyNYY
4 years 4 months ago

Maybe Brett Gardner… He should be good for them

4 years 4 months ago

Gardner is a good one.

Jason Klinger
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t see why the Yankees would part ways with Gardner. He’s talented, cheap ($530K in 2011) and under club control through 2014. Don’t you think the Yankees are better off extending him?

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

He said trade him not release him

Obviously the Yanks would get back certain assets in return that they feel would warrant the trade

Jason Klinger
4 years 4 months ago

I get that. But the Yankees are built to win now. The only assets they covet are quality starting pitchers or players they can flip for quality starting pitchers.

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

Livian Hernandez is old and used to be pretty good, seems to fit in well with yanks rotation now no? lol

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 4 months ago

Marquis

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

I couldn’t imagine Gardner being traded right now. He’s absolutely awful right now and there’s little chance the Yankees give up on a guy who posted a .380 OBP last year when his value’s probably at about its lowest. Meanwhile, I don’t see the Nationals giving up anything of value for a guy whose OBP is currently below the Mendozza line.

Bluntly speaking, Gardner’s ability may be below what he put up last year, but no way is he as bad as he’s playing right now. Shipping him out now for what another team would be paying for him would be the worst possible decision.

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

you’re assuming a team would only be willing to pay for him based solely on 1 month of struggles..

Its only selling low if you accept an offer based solely on his value after 1 month.

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

I’m assuming a team would trade for him based off an evaluation set somewhere between what he did last year and what he’s doing right now. Sure, we’ve seen he can get on base a ton and he’s got elite speed and defense, but he was bad in the second half last year and he’s off to a terrible start this year.

Now, I’ve admitted before that I’m pretty high on Gardner. He can get on base and he’s got the speed to make himself a solid starter. The fact is, however, that his numbers took a dramatic plunge in the second half last year, he couldn’t hit his weight in the playoffs and he’s off to a rotten start this year.

You have to look at him and think “hey, he’s got the potential to OBP around .400 and steal a ton of bases,” but you also have to look at him and think “could he be a half season wonder with a ceiling of defensive replacement?”

If I’m a rival GM, I wouldn’t trade for him unless he was part of a bigger deal or for something like a #5 pitcher because I’m wary of his staying power and the fact he’s had all of half a season of success ever. If I’m Cashman, I don’t trade him unless I get something of value for him because he’s shown he can do really well and I’d rather see he can do it again than trade him away for a bag of balls.

I just don’t see a viable middle ground for a trade here considering the wide gulf between what he MAY be capable of and what he’s been doing for the past five months’ worth of baseball. He’d be a great low risk high reward guy, but considering Cashman SHOULD want a good deal back for him, I don’t think anyone is likely to bite.

baseball33
4 years 4 months ago

He was hurt last year in the second half (wrist). And you don’t judge anyone on 57 at bats. Generally you need at least 100 at bats before you judge. By the way he put one out on Saturday and saved the game with his glove yesterday.

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

I agree 100% on small sample sizes and all that as an evaluation of a player, but you need to answer one question before proceeding:

Would you trade anything of value for a guy hitting at the level Gardner is right now unless he was an established star?

I’d trade just about anything for Albert Pujols, regardless of a .180 start. I’d an entire AA team for Felix Hernandez, even if he went 0-4 with a 12.30 ERA in April. But I sure as heck wouldn’t trade anything of any use to my team to get my hands on Sam Fuld, much less Sam Fuld’s younger brother who’s currently dreaming of the mendozza line.

I would definitely take a flyer on Gardner, but I want to see him put up two or three years of production at his first half 2010 levels before I am willing to commit to giving up anything for him. Bluntly speaking, he’s spent more of his career, to this point, hitting at the level of a defensive replacement than an All Star.

It’s in a rival GM’s best interest to give up as little value as possible for someone like that. It’s in Cashman’s best interest to get top value when shipping someone out. Those two facts don’t seem reconcilable at the current moment, thus I don’t see Gardner getting traded.

baseball33
4 years 4 months ago

Well I know what I think about Gardner. I can’t really speak for anyone else like Cashman or another GM. I think if he gets about 500 at bats he’ll hit .280, score 100 runs, and steal 40 plus bases. On top of being one of the best defensive outfielders. And he does a lot of other intangibles like working the pitcher and creating havoc on the base paths. Nothing he has done so far has led me to believe that last year was a fluke. Personally, in my opinion and that is all it is because I don’t have a crystal ball, I think that is what you should expect from him every year in the future. He’s only 27 and should get better and his game is predicated on speed, not power. You say you want 2 or 3 more years to see the real Gardner. In a couple of years I could see him hitting closer to .300 than .250 (again just my opinion). I laugh when I hear trades come up and people say that the Yankees don’t have any young (team controlled years) major league talent other than Cano or Hughes. Personally I don’t want to trade him. Two years ago he had half the at bats as last year and was on track to do what he did last year. I don’t really now what to say that you think he hit like a replacement player than an all-star. Weren’t they going to send him to last years All-star game but Girardi sent Hughes instead?

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

“I don’t really now what to say that you think he hit like a replacement player than an all-star.”

That statistics bear it out? He had a great start to 2010, but from June on, he was average to good and he’s been terribad this season. It’s really hard to say he’s either a bust OR worthwhile considering he’s had an incredibly inconsistent career to this point. It’s worth noting that his career year thus far was marked with an insanely high BABIP.

I don’t know that he’s a bust, nor do I think he is. That said, it’s very premature to count on him as a valuable commodity considering he’s only put up quality batting for about a third of his career at bats to date.

baseball33
4 years 4 months ago

He has always had “an insanely high” BABIP. Even in the minors. Can you tell me why?

4 years 4 months ago

If Kemp or Sizemore came here my head would explode so hard
Bourn, Borbon, or Blackmon would be cool too on the cheap
but I still want Ellsbury

4 years 4 months ago

(obviously there are massive WAR differences between those choices)

Oilcanoworms
4 years 4 months ago

Sorry, can’t have him.

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

Isn’t it fun how the Wells’ contract is unmovable?

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

Mike Cameron for Stephen Strasburg or Ryan Zimmerman seems fair. If you give us Zimmerman, we may even kick in Ortiz if you eat some salary.

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

Mike Cameron for a Stephen Strasburg or Ryan Zimmerman game used jersey seems fair. If you give us Zimmerman, we may even kick in Ortiz if you eat some salary.

Fixed that for you :)

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

Make it one of those Natinals jerseys and I think we have a deal.

jwredsox
4 years 4 months ago

I WANT ONE OF THOSE SO BAD

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Thats a joke right?

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

nope. he was clearly dead serious. clearly.

bomberj11
4 years 4 months ago

Hey man, the internet is a deceiving and merciless place where people can’t read emotions. (Snickers)

0bsessions
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t joke when it comes to Mike Cameron. Ever.

johnsilver
4 years 4 months ago

Only about Cam’s haircut.

4 years 4 months ago

They should trade for Nyger Morgan

4 years 4 months ago

I think an AJ Cole JP Ramirez an Daniel Rosenbaum and maybe, just maybe Ramos (emphasis on the maybe), would be enough for Upton. He might fit well in the NL.

Your’s truly,

Rays fan from New Hampshire.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 4 months ago

Nationals wouldn’t give up both Cole and Ramos… maybe sway Ramos with Desmond, and Cole with Milone

Pseudonymus Bosch
4 years 4 months ago

Michael Bourn has to be a very attractive trade target. They could extend him for 3-4 years and keep him in center when the team is contending. A Harper-Bourn-Werth outfield could have everything you need: solid-to-spectacular D, ridiculous hustle, two cannon arms in the corners, a legit leadoff hitter who will give you tons of steals, and a combined 40-50 homers per year.

Jason Klinger
4 years 4 months ago

I concur – Bourn will never be a prototypical leadoff hitter given his free-swinging ways (at least 109 K in each of the last three years), but there’s no denying the man can swipe a bag and cover some serious ground in the OF. Plus he’s arbitration-eligible in 2012, so you get him for at least 1.5 years so long as the Nats are willing to give him the $6-8 million he’ll likely be getting after his raise.

4 years 4 months ago

His handsome looks have nothing to do with anything.

gunsnascar
4 years 4 months ago

It would be awesome if Brett Jackson was ready for the bigs, then byrd would be a trade chip that could net a big return. Last year he was a allstar with a great stat line.

vtadave
4 years 4 months ago

Marlon Byrd and “big return” should never be used in the same sentence.

ellisburks
4 years 4 months ago

Marlon Byrd will never give a big return, he is barely league-average. How about that sentence?

Jason Klinger
4 years 4 months ago

3 WAR in 2008. 1.8 WAR in 2009. 4.5 WAR in 2010.

In other words, much better than league average.

ellisburks
4 years 4 months ago

OPS+ of 106 (2009) and 102(2010) where league average is 100 means he is league average. And I am not saying he isn’t a decent player, but he isn’t anything great and certainly not “much better than league average”

Encarnacion's Parrot
4 years 4 months ago

Sure, let’s ignore that pesky (usually) above-average defense of his. He’s league average at half the aspect of a starting 9’s game, perhaps.

4 years 4 months ago

I’d much rather see Kosuke moved.

Guest
4 years 4 months ago

I would love to see either Sizemore or Bourn, as long as they both sign extensions. I dont understand why the nationals dont give roger bernadina chance though.

brucefan5
4 years 4 months ago

no way the reds are interested in moving heisey

Ferrariman
4 years 4 months ago

hey, almost 20 posts in and no one has made a stupid Colby Rasmus proposition. Good job.

Lunchbox45
4 years 4 months ago

Colby Rasmus for Jim Riggleman!

Redbirds16
4 years 4 months ago

I was thinking the Cards could shop Jon Jay, just to see what kind of return they could get. Philly was looking at him, Atlanta might think about it, the Nats too… Maybe find an overpay and cash in.

At least that was a possibility until Shane Robinson got hurt, don’t know if they have a viable backup option down at Memphis. Maybe Adron Chambers is ready?

I guess Ankiel isn’t working out for the Nats. Too bad really, I wish the guy nothing but the best.

peyton dowdy
4 years 4 months ago

Well, I think they really like Ankiel’s defense, arm, baseball IQ and power potential but aren’t thrilled with having to play him against lefties.

Redbirds16
4 years 4 months ago

Perhaps, but if you’re looking for someone to start one out of every four or five days against LHP, you’re not going to go get Michael Bourn or BJ Upton.

peyton dowdy
4 years 4 months ago

True, but Ankiel is also only on a 1 year deal. I was more or less pointing out that it isn’t that Ankiel isn’t working out its that they want a more permanent solution.

chaifetz10
4 years 4 months ago

Adron Chambers would be my bet to replace Jay IF a trade were to happen. Dude has some serious wheels.

4 years 4 months ago

Carlos Gomez…

If/when Morgan and Hart are back healthy and Morgan is outperforming Gomez, which there is a pretty fair chance of. Another team to chase the dream that Gomez can learn how to play baseball.

LUWahooNatFan
4 years 4 months ago

Byrd, Kemp, Bourn, Blackmon, Cousins, Hunter would all be good acquisitions at the right price

I’m iffy whether or not Borbon, Davis, Rowand, Sizemore, Heisey would work

And I will blow my brains out if the Nationals think Pagan, Denorfia, Pie, or Maier are reasonable solutions in CF.

Rangersfan32
4 years 4 months ago

Trust me, you’ll want to add Borbon to the “blow your brains out” list.

4 years 4 months ago

I wondered about the possibility of the Cubs dealing Marlon Byrd to the Nat’s it came out that they were looking for a CF. Obviously not likely to happen but it could be good for both, though I don’t know why the Nat’s feel the need to upgrade at this point. They’ve got time before they are going to be real contenders. If the Cubs felt Jackson was ready, an he looks like he might be, they could shed some salary and add a left handed bat to the order. That would give them a little more salary to play with at the deadline. Hard to imagine them dealing an established player in favor of a prospect when they are still in contention though.

Jason Klinger
4 years 4 months ago

Not sure it’s even a big upgrade. True, Byrd’s lifetime line is a tidy .282/.340/.422, but he’s 33 this year. But Nats might see him as a ‘young 33′ since he’s only been a full-time player for the last three years.

diehardmets
4 years 4 months ago

I’ve never been a fan of Pagan, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him traded. We have internal options like Pridie, Captain Kirk, and even F-Mart that would be fine replacements for Pagan, so if we could trade him for a couple of decent specs I’m all for it. It would probably be too high a price for the Nationals, but I would love to grab AJ Cole.

Blue387
4 years 4 months ago

I love Pagan. He runs like the wind, was second in NL stolen bases last season, came up from the Mets farm system and plays good defense. Plus, he threw me a ball once.

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=8141357

buchachan
4 years 4 months ago

*Cubs farm system.

gunsnascar
4 years 4 months ago

Angel Pagan came up thru the cubs farm system.

4 years 4 months ago

Chris Denorfia is a good ball player. However, he shouldn’t be anywhere near CF playing full-time.

Amish_willy
4 years 4 months ago

The Nat’s should see what it takes to trade for Blake Tekotte. Personally I think he’s more attractive then a majority of the guys listed and might actually provide some long-term value. Think Tekotte could have Shane Victorino type upside, with the biggest difference being him being a lefty versus a switch hitter. Similar skillsets though. Denorfia definitely isn’t an everyday CF, an okay option if your alternatives are Melky Cabrera or Rick Ankiel, but that’s not saying much or really fixing anything.

peyton dowdy
4 years 4 months ago

He’d be a good fit for the rest of the year if they really are looking for a platoon partner for Ankiel. Definitely not a long term solution though.

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

This makes me wonder now; I heard a rumor going through Toledo that the nationals had scouts watching the tigers farm–I immediately thought nothing of it but now I wonder if that holds any truth and correlation to this situation.

I just can’t imagine that they think they could upgrade with a minor leaguer…

peyton dowdy
4 years 4 months ago

It could just be advanced scouts because Syracuse and Toledo play each other.

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

Could be–but advance scouts aren’t really given a second thought for the most part…