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A Few 2011-2012 Offseason CF Options

 

If there's one thing that Mike Rizzo has shown us over the past few seasons it's that he's never afraid to make a splash when acquiring new players. Whether it's through the draft, the free agent market, or the trade market (nixed Greinke deal), he's made it known that he's willing to give to get. One of the more apparent needs this offseason is an everyday centerfielder. And now that we're wrapping up the 2011 season, this seems like an opportune time to lay out all the options for this position.

  • CF Options
  • - Denard Span, Twins: Obviously the club has shown alot of interest in him in the past. And in terms of proven ability, he is definitely the best available leadoff hitter. But Rizzo backed away from him at the deadline because of health concerns and after his concussion symptoms seemed to have gotten worse after the deadline, it's hard to really see the Nats reconsidering Span in the offseason. Especially at the same price as before (Storen, Bernadina, Lombardozzi).
    - BJ Upton, Rays: Another guy that Rizzo has had his eyes on over the past few years. Upton, who is experiencing somewhat of a down year, has still put up a higher WAR than anyone on the Nats other than Danny Espinosa. With the emergence of Desmond Jennings, Upton has become even more expendable and he has even publicly stated his desire to play for Washington. To get him, the Rays would probably try to get Derek Norris and some bullpen arms in return at the least. The only question is, whether the Nats are willing to add another toolsy high strikeout guy to their lineup for this price.
    - Grady Sizemore, Indians: Depending on whether the club picks up his option or not, Sizemore could be had via free agency or trade. But either way, he wouldn't be a terribly expensive option to go to because he is coming off another unproductive injury riddled season. At 29 though, it would not be that much of a suprise to see Sizemore return near his 6-8 WAR form. This is another instance where injury risk/reward is the deciding factor.
    - Peter Bourjos, Angels: If the Angels are that concerned about their overcrowded outfield, Bourjos seems like the only guy they can deal to clear things up a bit. Hunter's, Abreu's and Wells' contracts are all untradable. Trout is banging on the door for playing time and with Morales back next year, Trumbo may be bumped to the outfield mix as well. Bourjos' outstanding speed and defense is probably what peaked Rizzo's interest at the deadline and he may be willing to give up some young pitching to get him. Here, the only concern is Bourjos' approach at the plate. .321 OBP and a 22.4% K rate doesn't really suggest that he's the leadoff hitting type Rizzo is looking for but he's still young and athletic enough to work with.
    - Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners: (Pure Speculation) Defensively, Gutierrez is widely considered the best center fielder in the league when healthy. And we all know how much Rizzo loves D. But offensively over the last few seasons he has gone from passable to abysmal. It could be easy to write off Gutierrrez completely because of his recent offensive struggles. But his poor performance at the plate could actually be explained by a gastrointestinal bug that has caused an apparent weight loss this season. A full offseason to regain strength could help him rebound fully. He's another guy that could be acquired this offseason at his lowest price but there is a huge injury risk on him moving forward.
    - Dexter Fowler/Charlie Blackmon, Rockies(Pure Speculation) It's safe to say the Rockies are going to have a surplus in center field in the future. Dexter Fowler is finally reaching potential in the majors, Charlie Blackmon is finally reaching the majors, and switch hitting power hitter Tim Wheeler is tearing up AA pitching. Fowler is just starting to show a little patience at the plate and Blackmon has never had a OBP below .360 in his professional career, so they both are showing their potential as leadoff hitters. The Rockies are lacking power arms in the rotation so I'm sure they'd target a guy like Detwiler in any trade. But this seems to be a fit for both teams if the Nats are willing to go the younger/unproven route.
    - Austin Jackson, Tigers: (Pure Speculation) So far in his career, A-Jax has shown that he will be an above average center fielder defensively but his offensive production depends a little too heavily on a high BABIP. He has the speed to lead off but his plate approach is what holds him back there. He has a career BB/K ratio of .30 (league average should be around .43). The Nats could go after him if they feel like he will refine his approach a little more, but there's no real evidence that the Tigers are shopping him right now.
    - Roger Bernadina/ Rick Ankiel, Nationals: To be fair, it shouldn't be assumed that these guys definitely won't get a chance next year. If Rizzo decides not to take a risk on any injured or unproven centerfielders, he might just leave center field as is and save the time and money to use it elsewhere (toward Fielder, Wilson, or Zimmerman extension for example).

Overall, there is some sort of risk involved with each player available. The only center fielders that are young and proven are locked up or untouchable. This is why, in my personal opinion, we should be a little more open to B.J. Upton. If Matt Kemp can go from a .3 WAR season to a 7.6 WAR season, there's no reason why Upton can't make half that leap especially while he's only 27 and he's already done it twice before. Definitely open to discussion though; let me know if you want to add anyone or change anything. I'd love to hear what you guys think!

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