If it seems like outfielders and, specifically, center fielders have been on the move a lot this offseason, it’s because they have.
Andrew Simon on MLB.com recently wrote that as many as 14 teams could have a different player in center field on Opening Day than they did last season when minor league call-ups and offseason acquisitions are taken into account.
MLB centerfielders combined for a .265 batting average last season—the highest average for the position since the 2009 season. The recent spike can be largely attributed to center fielders such as Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout and Austin Jackson having big offensive years.
However, these players may have also caused teams to re-evaluate where they stand in terms of their own center field situation. Whether it means finding a player to add more power to the lineup, a leadoff hitter capable of getting on base at a high rate or improving on defense, a number of teams have made changes to the heart of their outfield this season.
Although some teams have decided to move players currently on the roster over to center field or called up a minor league prospect to take over, this list will rank only center fielders who were newly acquired this offseason. The player’s ability, what his new team had to give up in order to acquire him and the pieces already in place were used as the criteria for these rankings.
With that in mind, here are the rankings for those center fielders who will be wearing new uniforms on Opening Day.