Free Agent And Trade Market For Center Fielders

The Athletics, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, and Giants are the key teams likely to seek center field help this offseason, and they'll be best served by the trade market.

Starting Center Fielders Available In Free Agency

Coco Crisp is likely to sign a multiyear deal, as he's the one viable everyday center fielder on the free agent market.  This was his healthiest year since '07, but if his on-base percentage doesn't bounce back he's not an asset at the top of a batting order.  

MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that the Indians are expected to choose a $500K buyout over Grady Sizemore's $9MM club option Monday.  That implies that Sizemore has little trade value on a one-year, $8.5MM deal.  If nothing else, Sizemore showed some pop in 71 games this year, but his health is a huge concern.  Since 2009 Sizemore has missed time due to injuries to his elbow, abdominal wall, and left knee, the last of which required microfracture surgery in June of 2010.  He had surgery for a sports hernia this year, and a right knee injury culminated in an October arthroscopy.  He's expected to be ready for Spring Training, and a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a base salary around $5MM makes for an intriguing gamble.

Thinking Outside The Box

With so few everyday center fielders available in free agency most years, teams with openings will have to be creative.  One option would be to try Endy Chavez as a center field regular; he hasn't filled that role since 2003-04 with the Expos.  His career was sidelined by a torn ACL operated on over two years ago, but his half-season with the Rangers this year was promising.

Agent Scott Boras said in March that Carlos Beltran could play center field effectively, but teams looking to invest in the 34-year-old probably won't count on that.  David DeJesus hasn't played 500 innings in center since '08, but Cody Ross tallied over 700 just last year.

Quality Backups

Assuming he doesn't retire, Mike Cameron's batting line with Florida suggests teams will have interest.  Rick Ankiel and Nate McLouth are also candidates to get Major League deals to serve as part-time players.

Non-Tender Candidates

The list of center field non-tender candidates is strong.  The Mets' Angel Pagan may be deemed unworthy of a $4.7MM arbitration salary, but there's an argument he was worth almost five times that amount in 2010.  The Giants' Andres Torres is an even more extreme example; he projects at $2.5MM through arbitration and was arguably worth over ten times that amount last year.  If teams have faith in the 2010 seasons of Pagan and Torres, they'll be popular trade targets prior to December 12th.  There's also a chance the Dodgers' Tony Gwynn Jr. is cut loose, though he projects to make only $1.1MM through arbitration.

Other Trade Candidates

Extending Matt Kemp is a top priority for Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, and Kemp doesn't want to talk contract during the season.  With Kemp entering his walk year, trade rumors will pick up if the extension talks fail.  Interest would be immense around the game for the MVP candidate.

Melky Cabrera projects at $4.4MM next year, and a multiyear deal with the Royals looks unlikely.  He's a trade candidate this winter coming off a fine offensive season.  The Rays' B.J. Upton is a fit for the more defensively-minded club, and he projects at $7.6MM in his last year before free agency.  Marlon Byrd, set to earn $6.5MM this year, may be expendable for the Cubs.  Denard Span, signed potentially through 2015, was often linked to the Nationals during the summer.  Hopefully the dizziness and vertigo he suffered this year are behind him.  Mitch Maier, Carlos Gomez, Chris Coghlan, Rajai Davis, and Alex Rios are other names to watch on the center field trade market.

Check out the full free agent list, as well as our articles on the markets at catcherfirst basesecond base, third base and shortstop.


41 Responses to Free Agent And Trade Market For Center Fielders Leave a Reply

  1. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Wow the indians are really giving up on grady..

    he’s about as low risk/high reward as they come.

    He would look great in a Braves Uni.

    • 9 Million is a low risk?

      • MaineSox 4 years ago

        Once the Indians exercise his buyout it wont cost someone nearly that much money to sign him, at that point he is a low risk.

    • johnsilver 4 years ago

      And the reason in the 1st place they moved Crisp to Boston.. How far has one of the top all around players in the game fallen..

      Somebody will offer him a figure close to that 9m have a feeling, he is still a better gamble than anyone on that list (other than Crisp) as far as CF are concerned, not to mention the payoff would be just fabulous should he approach 3/4 of his former self.

    • MaineSox 4 years ago

      I honestly have been hoping that the Sox would at least take a flyer on him for right field.  It kinda seemed like a Theo type of acquisition (risky, injury prone guy with huge upside who can be had on a relatively cheap/short deal), but we don’t really know yet if Cherington will like those same kind of deals.

      • johnsilver 4 years ago

        That would be absolutely perfect… But have nil hopes Grady ends up settling for an inexpensive deal when Cody Ross is one of the better options available. Not a knock on Ross there, just a barren market and Sizemore will have suitors am pretty sure.

        Thinking here of how outstanding however Sizemore would be at Fenway Maine.. Man I would love to see it…

        • MaineSox 4 years ago

          I don’t think he will get anything all that close to 9mil per year, not with the amount of risk a team will be taking on in signing him.  I can see him taking a short term deal that is heavily incentive laden.

    • bigpat 4 years ago

      He’s been garbage for years, 9M is a high risk for a team that badly needs offensive production. He was a great player for a stretch but they need a bat they can rely on. 9M lottery tickets aren’t great ideas for small market clubs. 

    • David Morell 4 years ago

      He would look insulting in a Braves uniform. Why should a guy who can’t stay healthy come to Atlanta? UMMM I think not.

  2. melky is an attractive option but why would the royals want to move..give him a 3yr/25m contract and he’ll earn dividends..the yankees missed his clutch hitting the last 2 yrs and i would trade swisher for him, but the royals wont pay swish 10m..neither should the yanks..angel pagan has speed and yankee stadium power..hed be a nice inexpensive option for the yankees to replace swish

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      You want to give Melky $25 million? I think I would want to see a repeat before going there.

      • johnsilver 4 years ago

        I wholly agree. Fans knocking on the production of a injured the last couple of seasons here on Sizemore should remember just how horrible cabrera was until this last season.

  3. toddboss 4 years ago

    The Nats have needed a free agent center fielder for 6 years.  I’m wonder who on this list they go after.  I’d love to see a trade for Upton, but we’ve just gotten our farm system back to respectable and I’m guessing the team won’t want to cash in on prospects just yet.  Maybe a Cabrera trade makes sense; give KC some more up-and-coming players to add to their existing cache and help them build towards a dominant 2013…

  4. Just wondering, what would a one year, or half year rental for Kemp cost in terms of prospects. One or two top prospects?

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      If you’re the Yankees, think Montero, Betances, and Banuelos.  Anyway though, Kemp will likely be the new owner’s #1 priority.

  5. hawkny1 4 years ago

    ROFLMAO…

    Mike Cameron hasn’t hit .250 in a full season since 2006.  Each year he gets progresssively worse.  Most recently, he was dismissed from the Marlins for being a negative influence in their clubhouse (just like he was in Boston).

    I hope the Yankees sign him.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      he hit .250 (not that that matters) in 2009 and produced more than 4 WAR, just like the year before and almost every other year of his career from 1997 to his injury in boston in 2010 (52.6 WAR in ~14 seasons). his career may be over, but it was a very good one

  6. wsox05 4 years ago

    Please someone take Alex Rios!!!!

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      Get me a job and I’ll look into that.

      – T. Reagins

  7. Grady Sizemore is a perfect fit with the New York Mets. Gotta think Sandy will be doing his due diligence by offering Grady a contract

  8. I don’t quite get the part about Andres Torres… How was he worth 10 times *more* than 2.5 mil? Is there something I’m missing? All I know is he was terrible this season. 

    • Guest 4 years ago

      That’s based on his 2010 WAR converted to a dollar value (see FanGraphs)…
      I think it’s kind of ridiculous… but I think the message is, if Pagan and Torres get close to their 2010 form, they could easily justify their respected 2012 contracts (that they are set to get), and then some.

  9. vtadave 4 years ago

    “With so few everyday center fielders available in free agency most years, teams with openings will have to be creative. One option would be to try Endy Chavez as a center field regular;”

    If that’s really an option for your team, a new GM is needed.

    ” The Mets’ Angel Pagan may be deemed unworthy of a $4.7MM arbitration salary, but there’s an argument he was worth almost five times that amount in 2010. The Giants’ Andres Torres is an even more extreme example; he projects at $2.5MM through arbitration and was arguably worth over ten times that amount last year.”

    Exhibits A and B on why FanGraphs’ “values” are always good for a chuckle.

    • I mean just like anything, using 1 year’s worth of data is going to be misleading.  You’d have to average it out over a few years to get realistic data.  For example, a 1 year $25M deal for Torres would be nuts, but a 3 year $30M deal wouldn’t be nearly as crazy (though still ill-advised IMO).

  10. Joey E 4 years ago

    dodgers need to lock up kemp pronto
    im really sick of MLBTR constantly bringing him up as a potential trade candidate

    • Try being a Mariners fan and seeing the Felix thing pop up routinely… AFTER being locked up.

  11. Pawsdeep 4 years ago

    Austin Jackson could be a trade possibility. Ive heard his name float around a little bit, not that I like the idea, but he would be an intriguing talent for a trade if he is on the market.

  12. kwiell 4 years ago

    I sincerely hope that Alex Rios’ name is on the trade market. Because, heaven knows that a AAAA journeyman would have been at least as valuable and not nearly so painful to watch. Though, at this point, hoping that Robin Ventura beats him with an old shoe and Rios remembers that he used to actually like playing baseball is probably more likely.

    Or, alterntively, he could just get lost on his way to Spring Training and save all of us the agony.

  13. lefty177 4 years ago

    “Agent Scott Boras said in March that Carlos Beltran could play center field effectively”
    & my dad told me that I could be a major leaguer but I’m thinking they’re both wrong

  14. That’s why you move him to Left

  15. David Morell 4 years ago

    Braves need a SLUGGING outfielder. 

  16. shysox 4 years ago

    Quentin for B prospects for Minor

  17. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    braves need a slugging OUTFIELDER

  18. wsox05 4 years ago

    Quentin would be fine in LF especially with Bourn to his left.  He would be a good fit for the Braves. 

  19. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    they can do a lot better

  20. wsox05 4 years ago

    I doubt they could do A LOT better.  I’m not sure who is available that is a huge upgrade over the offense that Quentin could provide.

  21. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    what offense are you projecting? a .350 wOBA with horribad defense in left field isn’t especially useful. keeping it topical, sizemore is entirely capable of a .350 wOBA while playing an above average left field – and he wouldn’t cost talent, just money

  22. Stop, you’re talking crazy.  It clearly says that he’s a CF so moving him to LF is impossible.

  23. wsox05 4 years ago

    Sizemore would be hurt with in 30 minutes of signing him.  But hey go ahead.  Count on Uggla for all your power again.  Hold onto all of your SP and waste the chance to get anyone that could help you offensively.

  24. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    i like that you assume i’m a homer just because you are

    sorry though, not a braves fan, not gonna join your slap fight. there are several options for the braves that are better than quentin; sizemore’s just the topical one

  25. Uggla for all the Braves power? Duh! I guess McCann, Heyward, Freeman, and Chipper don’t count. You do realize they were 3rd in the NL in HRs last season and hit more then the Chisox? Right?

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