Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Offseason Preview: The Center Fielder Market

There was a lot of talk immediately after a couple of Yankee hits found their way into Target Field's gaps about upgrading center field this year. The most common suggestion I heard was to trade away a corner outfielder, jostle around the outfield so Denard Span ended up in left field, and get a true center fielder.

But one of the things we've discovered while writing up the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is how thin the center fielder free agent market is. Actually "non-existant" might be a better description. We rushed in a late change yesterday when Melky Cabrera was non-tendered by the Braves - because he might be the best free agent center fielder available (non-Crawford category). In our list of free agent outfielders, there aren't many that qualify as center fielders. Here they are; read 'em and weep.

Carl Crawford
Age: 29 (08/05/81) | 2010 Salary: $10.00M
Stats: .307/.356/.495, 19 HR, 90 RBI

A lot of Crawford’s value is based on the perception that he can play center field. He can, and has in the past, but he played mostly in left field this year. Still, expect some big market team, looking to fill center field with an impact player, to focus in on him like a laser. If I was the Yankees, I sure would.
Estimated Contract: 6 years, $96M

Coco Crisp*
Age: 30 (11/01/79) | 2010 Salary: $4.75M
Stats: .279/.342/.438, 8 HR, 38 RBI

Here’s the runner-up prize in the Crawford sweepstakes, and that’s not a bad thing. Unlike last year, he doesn’t need to prove he is healthy. He’s also a plus defender, put up solid offensive stats (albeit in limited time) and is only 30 years old. If the A’s decline his $5.75M option, he may get more in this market than people would think. On second thought, why would they not pick it up?
Estimated Contract: Not available - Athletics pick up the $5.75M option

Melky Cabrera
Age: 26 (8/11/84) | 2010 Salary: $3.1M
Stats: .255/.317/.354, 11 HR, 59 RBI

Is he a starting center fielder or a fourth outfielder, overhyped by the Yankee publicity machine? The Braves apparently voted the latter, as they non-tendered him this offseason rather than pay him once he got expensive. His offensive numbers, which are pretty close to what you would expect from his career numbers, are respectable enough for a good center fielder. Unfortunately, Cabrera was not a good center fielder. He was poor defensively in center and spent a good chunk of the season in the corners – where he was also poor defensively. Still, after Crawford is signed (and assuming Crisp stays in Oakland) this might be the top center fielder on the market. (Which is worth remembering when someone talks about moving Denard Span to a corner spot.)
Estimated Contract: 2 year, $6M

Rick Ankiel
Age: 31 (07/19/79) | 2010 Salary: $3.25M
Stats: .232/.321/.389, 6 HR, 24 RBI

He was a great story, but is looking less and less like a diamond in the rough and more and more like a high-end fourth outfielder.
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $1.5M

Jim Edmonds
Age: 40 (06/27/70) | 2010 Salary: $1.20M
Stats: .276/.342/.504, 11 HR, 23 RBI

Seriously? Edmonds is on this list again? Are we absolutely sure it’s the same guy from fifteen years ago, and not a clone or something?

He defied his age in Milwaukee and was eventually traded to the playoff contending Reds. He ended up fighting various injuries during his time there, because, you know, he’s ancient.
Estimated Contract: I’d like to predict retirement, but at this point, why would you bet against him? 1 year, $1M

Jody Gerut
Age: 33 (09/18/77) | 2010 Salary: $2.00M
Stats: .197/.23/.366, 2 HR, 8 RBI

He’s a centerfielder and the list this year is shallow. That’s the only reason he’s here. He’s 33 years old and was released in July by the Brewers and signed a minor-league deal with the Padres. That sounds about right.
Estimated Contract: Minor league contract


Remember, there are another 100 pages like this in the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook e-book, which you can buy using these buttons for just $9.95. By pre-ordering it now, you'll get it before the World Series starts, instead of the day after it ends. Here is that link for credit cards:
Buy Now

Or, if you prefer Paypal, click:
Buy Now


Brian said...

What about Revere?

Not a FA, but an option for the Twins.

walter hanson said...

the Yankees went and paid a high price for a CF (Granderson and his big contract plus giving up on Jackson). They will get Crawford and make him a LF because:

* They want to kill Tampa Bay permanetly.

* They want a consistent hitter who can create runs in front of Texeria, A Rod, and Cano.

That's why they will sing Crawford, not because they think they need a CF.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

Anonymous said...

Edmonds would actually be a good fit on this team.