MLB Trade Speculation: 10 Outfielders Who Will Become Available
It's been a wild and eventful April in baseball. The first month of the 2011 season is drawing to a close and the season is beginning to truly gear up.
Teams draw up lineups and plan ahead for the upcoming winter and spring training, however the realities of the regular season, even in only a month's worth of games, are what ultimately dictate how in-season trades might be pulled.
Here are 10 outfielders who teams have made available or who will become available...
1. Jonny Gomes
With six HR and 16 RBI, Jonny Gomes is off to a hot start in the power department. The guy is getting everyday playing time with Cincinnati this year—just like he did last year, when he hit 18 HR and 86 RBI to the tune of .266/.327/.431/.758.
Gomes is 30-years-old and is in a contract year. He had never played more than 117 games before last year, when he played 148. If there ever was a time for the Reds to sell on Gomes, it's now.
With his possibilities as a DH and picking up starts against left-handed pitchers, Gomes is an attractive option to a fringe AL contender, like Oakland—or truly any team in the wide-open AL central.
2. Juan Pierre
Juan Pierre is in a contract year and, the way Brent Lillibridge is playing, maybe the White Sox will feel Juan Pierre is a player they can move.
Pierre may be at age 33, but he still has his wheels. His 68 steals were tops in the AL last season. Speed is a resource highly valued by contending teams that are deficient in that category as the season progresses.
The White Sox figure to be a contending team, so it will take probably more than just two prospects to pluck Pierre from the South Side.
3. Nate Schierholtz
To heck with becoming available, Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz is available.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the San Francisco is "letting teams know OF Nate Schierholtz is available." Crasnick speculated that Schierholtz could be the "odd-man out" when Andres Torres comes off the DL.
Schierholtz already sees limited action behind a current outfield of Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Cody Ross. When the Giants recall Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno, the logic behind Schierholtz's spot on the roster makes even less sense.
Schierholtz, however, just doesn't get very many plate appearances. He only made a combined 560 trips to the dish in 2009 and 2010—despite appearing in 253 games.
4. Johnny Damon
If the Rays do deal Johnny Damon mid-season it will not be for any lack of love between the player and his latest employer. By all accounts, both the Rays and Damon are thrilled with the way things have worked out in 2011.
Damon is a Florida native, so winding up his career close to home is a natural fit. For the Rays, looking to remain relevant in the AL East after an offseason heavy on losses and light on additions, Damon's strong play thus far has been a real asset.
If the Rays aren't on pace with New York or Boston come July, a contending team will likely make Tampa an offer they can't refuse and help them get some return on Damon.
5. Austin Kearns
Austin Kearns is no stranger to switching teams mid-summer. Last summer he was traded by the Indians to the Yankees and, in 2006, he was sent to the Nationals by the Reds.
Kearns returned to Cleveland over the winter, signing a one-year $1.3 million deal. Over the past few seasons, Kearns has settled into a fourth outfielder role, primarily finding his playing time when his left-handed hitting outfield mates get a night off against a left-handed starter.
For a contender like the Yankees, Kearns is a cheap trade option. He does not have a terrific amount of upside, however he is a reliable righty bat who can work the count and have success in pinch-hitting opportunities. Because of this, Kearns might find a spot on a National League contender, like the Phillies or Brewers.
6. Carlos Gomez
Carlos Gomez has been in the hot seat since opening day. While he still has hold of the Brewers' starting center field job, newly acquired Nyjer Morgan (currently on the 15-day DL) will likely compete for the job once healthy.
Gomez has good speed but, with a .293 career OBP, has perpetually struggled to get things going with the bat at the Major League level.
Milwaukee probably wouldn't get a whole lot in return for Gomez, however there might be no time like the present for the Brewers to cut their losses on an investment that hasn't worked out as they had hoped.
7. Xavier Nady
It's hard to believe that this is Xavier Nady's ninth full major league season, right?
Nady has struggled to live up to the hype he generated during his years in Pittsburgh. His career took a significant hit in 2009 when Nady, then with the Yankees, had to go under two Tommy John procedures—the first in April, the second in July, after his initial rehab didn't progress well.
Like others on this list, Nady is in a contract year and, what's more, he figures to be relatively cheap to obtain.
8. Coco Crisp
Coco Crisp is another outfielder who will be a free agent after 2011. His good glove and speed make him an attractive option for a team that might be willing to part with a couple of prospects.
The A's have a lot of guys fighting for time in their outfield right now. Without Crisp, Oakland would start Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and David DeJesus. Ryan Sweeney would be the team's clear fourth outfielder.
On top of that, Chris Carter is chomping at the bit in Triple-A Sacramento, looking to improve upon his rough cup of coffee last September. All in all, Crisp is a great player for Oakland to shop.
9. Andre Ethier
An Andre Ethier trade would certainly make a splash.
Given the recent developments coming out of Los Angeles, it would not be a surprise to see the Dodgers play things fiscally conservative. Ethier is making $9.25 million this year and will be arbitration eligible for the final time this coming offseason.
The Dodgers would clearly loathe to part with their 28-year-old stud outfielder, however with the right offer they might pull the trigger.
10. Grady Sizemore
Are Grady Sizemore's days in Cleveland numbered?
Not now, according to Indians' GM Chris Antonetti, who told ESPN's Jayson Stark, "If we had been the team we wanted to be in 2008, we wouldn't have traded CC [Sabathia]. … So this year, if we play up to our expectations, if we're a contending team, we'll be looking to acquire guys, not trade guys [like Sizemore] away. Our focus is, let's get back to winning and start bringing in guys at the deadline."
One month into 2011 and the Indians are unquestionably playing above expectations.
Sizemore has been more than alright too. Since coming of the DL after completing his rehab on his micro-fracture surgery, he is is firing on all cylinders since coming off the DL. In eight games played he he is hitting .406, with 13 hits, three of them home runs.