The quiet nature of this month means that there are plenty of corner options still available, and there’s been no shortage of clubs linked to help in left field and right field. The Indians, Dodgers, Cubs, Orioles, Mariners, Giants and Nationals have all been connected to outfielders in some capacity, and others figure to be exploring the market more quietly as well. Here’s a rundown of some of the available options…
Josh Reddick: Extension talks between Reddick and the A’s haven’t progressed, with Oakland seeking a three-year pact and Reddick looking for four. His season has been shortened by a fractured thumb, but Reddick is slashing a very solid .300/.375/.443 with seven homers in 258 plate appearances. He’s walked nearly as many times (28) as he’s struck out (33) and is earning an affordable $6.575MM in his final year before hitting the open market. The A’s have been winning quite a bit since the All-Star break (9-4), but they’re still 11 games back in the division and 9.5 games back from a Wild Card spot, making Reddick seem like a good bet to be moved by always-active president of baseball ops Billy Beane.
Carlos Beltran: The Yankees already sold one free-agent-to-be in Aroldis Chapman, and Beltran makes sense as a trade candidate in a similar vein. He’s hitting .305/.347/.548 with 21 home runs on the year and is in the final season of a three-year, $45MM deal. Beltran’s glove has deteriorated substantially, but an American League club could certainly benefit from adding him to split time between right field and DH.
Steve Pearce: Pearce is absolutely mashing (.312/.384/.528) on a one-year, $4.75MM deal for a selling Rays club. He’s extremely likely to be traded in the coming days and, as a bonus, can handle first base and second base as well. Pearce probably doesn’t get the fanfare he deserves, but he’s batted .271/.347/.502 in 932 PAs dating back to 2014.
Signed Through 2017
Jay Bruce: Not only is Bruce in the midst of a brilliant rebound, he’s arguably the hottest hitter in Major League Baseball. Bruce has homered in five straight games, one being a multi-homer showing, and he’s hitting .271/.323/.572 with 25 homers overall. His $13MM option for next season looks perfectly reasonable even if his defense has taken a step back following 2014 knee surgery. The rebuilding Reds seem likely to move him within the next few days barring a somewhat surprising lack of genuine interest.
Carlos Gonzalez: CarGo has been the subject of trade rumors for the better part of three years thanks to his excellent play and the Rockies’ perennial status as also-rans in the NL West. His increasing proximity to free agency, however, makes it seem more plausible that Gonzalez would be traded than it has in years past. His .317/.370/.544 slash line is inflated somewhat by Coors Field, but even when adjusted for park and league, it translates to about 25 percent above the league-average hitter. He’s not the base-stealing threat he once was, but Gonzalez doesn’t hurt a team on the basepaths and still provides an above-average glove in right field.
Melky Cabrera: There’s a perception that Cabrera could be included in the “big contract” section below, but he’s hitting .293/.338/.453 since June 1 of last season and is past the halfway point in his deal. He doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of defensive value, but Cabrera is a solid bat that isn’t outrageously priced. If the Sox are willing to listen on short-term assets — and it sounds like they are — then there’s no reason to think Cabrera couldn’t go help deepen a contending club’s lineup.
- Calhoun’s inclusion is a stretch, but there’s no doubt teams are at least checking in with the Halos on their quietly excellent and perpetually underrated right fielder. Calhoun is hitting .283/.364/.431 with 10 homers and 31 total extra-base hits to go along with solid right field defense. He’s under control through 2019 as a Super Two player, and I’d imagine he would have to net the Angels multiple high-end pieces (likely MLB-ready arms) for an offer to even merit consideration.
- It’s not all that clear that the Twins or A’s would listen on Grossman and Davis, as each is highly controllable (Grossman for four more years, Davis for three) and producing at the plate. Grossman’s ridiculous 17.6 percent walk rate has seemingly materialized out of thin air and resulted in a .274/.405/.441 line through 227 PAs since inking a minors deal with the Twins in May. Davis mashed his 24th and 25th homers last night despite playing half his games at O.Co Coliseum. He’s OBP challenged, as always, and strikes out a fair amount, but that power is tantalizing.
- Gardner would represent a different type of trade than Chapman or Beltran for the Yankees, as he’s controlled for two years beyond this (with an option for a third season) at a reasonable rate and is still productive. Moving Gardner is seemingly the type of trade the Yankees are looking to avoid, as they’re not entering a complete rebuild. Still, he’s been speculated upon since the offseason and should draw interest.
- The Rays are getting more hits on their pitchers, but clubs in need of a right-handed outfield bat could look to Tampa Bay as well. Neither Guyer nor Jennings is as productive as Pearce, but Guyer is controllable and handles left-handed pitching quite well. Jennings’ top prospect star has faded and he’s no longer even looking like an everyday option following a series of knee injuries, but perhaps a change of scenery (and escaping Tropicana Field’s turf) could help his cause.
- The Braves don’t want to move Francoeur unless they get a legitimate prospect in return, which seems unlikely, but GM John Coppolella did pull a real prospect out of Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez. Garcia has once again proven underwhelming for the White Sox, who one has to imagine will simply give up the ghost on him at some point. The same could be said for Asche in Philadelphia. Dyson’s glove and wheels make him an intriguing long-term bench option, but his affordable remaining control might just mean Kansas City holds onto him.
- Braun is still an elite bat, but interest in him is apparently minimal due to the fact that he’s just in the first season a five-year, $105MM contract extension. That type of cash is difficult for any team to absorb at any time but especially midseason. The Brewers are reportedly more concerned with getting good talent in return than getting salary relief, so the possibility of a salary dump needn’t be entertained.
- The other names on this list simply haven’t performed well enough to make a trade seem reasonable. Tomas is hitting for power this season but still showing poor plate discipline and playing sub-par defense. That’s doubly true for Kemp, who has one of the lowest OBPs of any qualified hitter and still has gobs of cash left on his deal — though he is slugging .488 and has swatted 23 long balls. Ellsbury has $84.57MM remaining on his deal after this season, which figures to be a non-starter in any talks. Markakis could be moved if the Braves eat some of the $22MM he’s owed after the season, but it’s been years since he showed any kind of power, and his average/OBP have dipped this year, too.
- Jay was shaping up to be one of San Diego’s best trade chips before a fractured forearm suffered on a hit-by-pitch shelved him for more than a month. He’ll be back in August and should draw interest as a trade candidate, though he might not make it through waivers. Bourjos was a man on fire for about six weeks leading up to the All-Star break and has long had a brilliant defensive reputation. He hit the DL today after crashing into the outfield wall while making a running catcher and subsequently injuring his shoulder, but a contending club looking for some speed and defense in a fourth outfielder could benefit from adding the fleet-footed Bourjos in August once he’s healthy.