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Trade Market For Corner Outfielders

Last July, corner outfielders Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Ichiro Suzuki, Nate Schierholtz, Travis Snider and Scott Podsednik found themselves changing uniforms as a result of trades. Much like we'll see in the coming weeks, that group includes starters and bench bats as well as pending free agents and players who were under control beyond season's end. Here's a look at some of the names that could be on the move in 2013...

Starters

Alex Rios (White Sox), Alejandro De Aza (White Sox), Norichika Aoki (Brewers), Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), Nate Schierholtz (Cubs), Marlon Byrd (Mets), Alfonso Soriano (Cubs), Chris Carter (Astros), Raul Ibanez (Mariners)

Stanton and Rios are the prizes of this year's crop, though the Marlins have gone on record numerous times saying they won't trade Stanton. Rios is available and could command the largest return on the market, as he's controllable through the 2015 season. He slumped in June but is still hitting .277/.330/.442 with strong defense in right field. He hasn't played center regularly since 2011 but could move there in a pinch.

Ethier and Soriano represent players who could be acquired in salary dump deals, and both come with significant platoon splits. The emergence of Yasiel Puig has brought Ethier's long-term role with the Dodgers into question despite the fact that he's just one year into an $85MM extension. Soriano has been on the block for years, but the weight of his contract has made him untradeable. Now, with just one year left and solid power numbers, the Cubs may be able to move him to a team in need of right-handed pop. Soriano has been particularly lethal against lefties, batting .294/.328/.514.

Aoki should draw plenty of interest, following the news that his contract allows him to become a free agent following the 2014 season. His contract contains a small $1.5MM club option for next season. The three-time Japanese batting champion has hit .292/.359/.411 as a Major Leaguer thus far.

Ibanez is enjoying an unlikely career year in terms of power production, as he's already launched 22 homers. His OBP is a paltry .301, and he may not be a clear-cut starter in the outfield because because of his defense. However, he's handled both lefties (.904 OPS) and righties (.826 OPS) very well and would be particularly beneficial to an AL team with a need at DH.

De Aza is miscast as a center fielder, according to advanced defensive metrics, but he offers a nice blend of speed and power. Like his teammate Rios, he's controlled through 2015, albeit at a much more affordable price. De Aza is earning $2.08MM this year as a first-time arbitration player. He could factor into the team's long-term plans, but GM Rick Hahn will reportedly listen to offers on anyone aside from Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.

The 26-year-old Carter is controlled longer than any of these candidates, but it's a stretch to call him a left fielder and he's leading the AL in strikeouts. In just over 400 career innings in left, Carter's UZR/150 is -37.6, and The Fielding Bible pegs him at eight runs below average. He has legitimate 30-homer power, however, for teams that can look past his defense. Given the amount of team control he has remaining, GM Jeff Luhnow likely wouldn't want to part with him on the cheap.

Schierholtz is arbitration-eligible for a final time this winter and hitting a solid .275/.330/.510, though nearly all of that production has come against right-handed pitching. Just 31 of his plate appearances this season have come against same-handed pitching. He's available, but the Cubs certainly don't have to move him this summer. MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Schierholtz as a trade candidate.

Byrd is arguably the best minor league signing of the offseason, as he's hit .268/.313/.506 with a team-leading 15 homers for the Mets. He's hitting both righties and lefties well in addition to playing solid defense. Byrd isn't likely to command a significant return, but he can provide a boost to a contender with a need in the outfield.

Backups and Bench Bats

Jerry Hairston (Dodgers), Laynce Nix (Phillies), Delmon Young (Phillies), John Mayberry Jr. (Phillies), Endy Chavez (Mariners), Juan Pierre (Marlins), Jason Bay (Mariners)

There aren't many attractive options in this group, though Mayberry and Young have had respectable seasons with the bat. Young has played his typical brand of brutal defense, however. Hairston can play multiple positions and has hit .261/.311/.342 this season. Pierre isn't hitting much, but he's held his own against right-handed pitching and can still run. Bay and Chavez haven't hit well, though Bay has handled left-handed pitching well.

Injured Players

Josh Willingham (Twins), Mike Morse (Mariners), David DeJesus (Cubs), Ryan Sweeney (Cubs), Chris Coghlan (Marlins), Lucas Duda (Mets)

Willingham is out four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. If he can return in time for the deadline, he could be moved, but the Twins would be selling low on his power bat. He's hitting just .224/.356/.398 after trying to play through injury. Owed just $7MM in 2014, he's unlikely to clear waivers in August. It seems like the Twins would be better served to listen to offers in the offseason.

Morse was acquired this offseason in a three-way trade with the A's and Nationals but hasn't lived up to expectations. He's been on the DL twice already, and after homering six times in the season's first nine games, he's hit just .249/.316/.391. His injuries and slumping bat likely mean the Mariners wouldn't get much in a return, but as a free agent who won't receive a qualifying offer, Seattle has little to gain by holding him.

DeJesus was enjoying a fine year prior to a right shoulder sprain, but it's not clear when he will return. I examined him as a trade candidate in May, noting that he could net a respectable haul given his affordable club option. A broken rib will cost his teammate Sweeney the same four to six week period as Willingham, but he could still be moved in August for a nominal return given the fact that he's a pending free agent. He was hitting .295/.342/.527 in 121 plate appearances at the time of his injury.

There's no timetable on Coghlan's return as it stands, but the former Rookie of the Year is hitting .277/.326/.415 in a rebound campaign after falling off the grid from 2011-12.

Duda has been on the disabled list since late June but could provide a contender with some power if healthy prior to the trade deadline. His defense in the outfield is among the worst in the game, according to UZR, but he can also play first base and could DH for an American League team. He's controlled through 2017 and is not yet arbitration eligible.

For more on the 2013 trade market, take a look at Tim Dierkes' examination of the market for catchers, first basemen, shortstops and third basemen as well as my own look at the market for second basemen.








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