Almost every contending team, save the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s, needs help in the outfield. Some squads need help defensively or in center field, while others need a power bat to play corner outfielder. Whatever the case, you can expect to see quite a bit of movement at the position in the coming weeks.
Matt Kemp bears mentioning. There has been a lot of talk about his availability, and while anything is possible, it is unlikely that he will be moved. He is, after all, a large part of the reason the Dodgers have been playing so well lately.
Alejandro De Aza, LF, Chicago White Sox
Alejandro De Aza may be playing his way off the Chicago White Sox. Take, for example, the .365/.423/.540 slash line and six doubles he’s put up in the month of June. He has also been hitting the cutoff man (a big deal for him) and is generally playing good baseball.
Additionally, De Aza is a directional-split demon. All five of his home runs, 15 of his RBI and almost half of his doubles have come pulling the ball, according to FanGraphs. That can play very well in certain ballparks that play short to right field.
De Aza also has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining, which should increase his value. There aren’t a lot of options in the minor leagues for the White Sox to replace De Aza, but if general manager Rick Hahn can find a taker, he should jump on it.
Emilio Bonifacio, CF, Chicago Cubs
Currently on the disabled list, Chicago Cubs outfielder Emilio Bonifacio could be a fantastic addition to a contending team’s roster.
He compiled a .261/.307/.340 slash line with 10 doubles, three triples and 13 stolen bases in 241 at-bats before going down with an oblique strain. Those numbers aren’t the reason he’s worth picking up, though.
Bonifacio is simply one of the most versatile players in MLB, logging time in center field, at third base, at second base and at shortstop. He could also play either corner spot in the outfield, so his value is tremendous. Assuming he returns from the disabled list ready to play, the Cubs should be able to move him for an attractive package.
Josh Willingham, LF, Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham could end up being a designated hitter following his almost-certain trade, depending on which team grabs him. He is an outfielder by profession, however, so he is included in this group.
This season, he is hitting .252 with seven home runs, four doubles and an .886 OPS. One thing to recognize here is that while the sample size is only 115 at-bats, he is getting on base at a .399 clip. That is a positive sign for a team looking to add the long ball to the middle of its lineup.
Seth Smith, OF, San Diego Padres
While it’s true that San Diego Padres corner outfielder Seth Smith has seen his batting average fall from .309 at the beginning of June to .276 entering play on Monday, he is still one of the better targets in either league.
And make no mistake: The Padres will likely part ways with him in the coming weeks. Per ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, Smith is one of the outfielders “at the top of their ‘BUY ME’ list.” It makes sense, too, given his production and the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Alex Rios, RF, Texas Rangers
Alex Rios is having such a good season that it will be a shame to see him go, but that is the smart play for Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. On the season, he has eight triples, 13 stolen bases and a .304/.336/.438 slash line.
Rios is a right fielder by trade, but he has played center field in the past. Granted, he struggled at times with his routes and seemed disinterested, but if needed, he could fill the role. He has a $13.5 million team option with a $1 million buyout for the 2015 season, so whoever lands him will have the chance to make it a multiyear relationship.
Marlon Byrd, RF, Philadelphia Phillies
Right fielder Marlon Byrd’s time with the Philadelphia Phillies could be short. Not that it’s his fault, of course.
Sure, his batting average and on-base percentage are down from his career averages, but he is slugging with the best of them and is producing runs. All told, he has a .268/.319/.487 slash line and already has 15 home runs, 48 RBI and 40 runs scored.
Byrd has a relatively reasonable contract that could run through the 2016 season if his option vests, so keeping him on the roster may be wise for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
But given the contact situations of some of his other players, Byrd may be the easiest one to move.