A week ago, we established that the free agent market for left fielders is weak for clubs that can't join the Carl Crawford bidding. The Rays, Tigers, Angels, Braves, Reds, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants may be looking for help at the position; let's see what the trade market adds to the picture.
If the Nationals re-sign Adam Dunn or add another slugger and feel they can spare Josh Willingham, this offseason would be the time to make a deal. Willingham, 32 in February, posted a solid .268/.389/.459 line in 450 plate appearances this year. He's open to playing first base or the outfield corners and could make around $7MM in 2011 before reaching free agency. He has faced injuries recently, however.
The Royals' David DeJesus played little left field this year, but has extensive experience at the position. The team already picked up his $6MM option for '11. His career-best season ended in July with a torn thumb ligament, just before the trade deadline. If the Royals intend to move him, it may make sense to let him demonstrate good health first.
Baltimore's Luke Scott is another name to consider, though he hasn't played 200 innings in left field since '08. Scott had a strong offensive year and is due a raise on a $4.05MM salary, but there's been no indication the Orioles are looking to move him.
If you're willing to pick up a bad contract, the trade market for left fielders presents several options: Carlos Lee, Raul Ibanez, Juan Rivera, and Milton Bradley. Lee's deal would be the toughest to stomach, at $37MM over the next two seasons. His normally respectable numbers fell off a cliff this year at age 34. Ibanez, with $11.5MM remaining, is still a useful hitter. The Phillies might need him if Jayson Werth departs, though. Rivera, owed $5.25MM for '11, may be shopped as the Angels look for more athleticism in left field. He hit just .252/.312/.409 on the season. Bradley says he can coexist with new Mariners manager Eric Wedge, but if not it'll be nearly impossible to find a taker even if the Ms assume most of his $12MM salary.
Out Of Favor?
Scott Hairston, Matt Diaz, Conor Jackson, Ryan Langerhans, Fred Lewis, Laynce Nix, Reggie Willits, Travis Buck, and Lastings Milledge are non-tender candidates. Melky Cabrera has already joined the free agent ranks. The non-tender candidates figure to be trade bait prior to the December 2nd deadline, especially borderline cases like Lewis, Diaz, Milledge, Nix, and Willits.
Willingham, DeJesus, and Scott would greatly improve the market for left fielders if made available. Otherwise you're looking at bad contracts and players hoping to bounce back or establish themselves.