The trade deadline is a few weeks away, so the rumor mill is about to heat up. To prep you for the coming trade season, we're providing a primer on who the top available trade targets could be as get closer to July 31st.
Rather than bore you with a lame attempt at a clever introductory paragraph to the center field trade market, let's just be honest. If your team needs a center fielder, you're screwed. There is maybe two or three players worth acquiring and none of them are difference makers. So, you know, good luck with that.
Probably not available, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.
Norichika Aoki – Yep, this is the cream of the center field trade crop. He is pretty cheap for a veteran and gets on base at a .358 clip for his career, so he could really help a lot of teams. However, it is unclear if the Brewers are going to go into full fire sale mode and make him available, especially since Aoki is still under team control through 2014.
David DeJesus – DeJesus is a like a lesser version of Aoki in that he gets on base at a good clip, but he can be susceptible to left-handed pitching and might be stretched defensively in center field. The bigger problem though is he is currently on the DL with a shoulder injury, so it remains to be seen if he will be healthy in time to get dealt.
Peter Bourjos – If available, Bourjos would no doubt be the best center fielder available. He might well be the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball and he has been surprisingly productive at the plate this year. Injuries have held him back, but that is not why he won't be traded. The Angels have rebuffed overtures for Bourjos for years now and they don't seem particularly compelled to move him now, though that tune might change in the off-season.
Take my overpaid/underperforming center fielder, please!
Alejandro De Aza – After something of a breakout campaign in 2012, De Aza has comeback to earth with a .318 OBP and 92 OPS+. He is under team control through 2015, but his arbitration salary could reach the point where he becomes a non-tender candidate as soon as this off-season. Still, the White Sox have made it known that just about everyone on the roster is available, so De Aza could be worth taking a chance on if Chicago is going to price him to move.
Franklin Gutierrez – Constantly injured and mostly unproductive when healthy, the Mariners could try and sell Gutierrez on the strength of his superb defense. They should be motivated to do so if it means getting out from the remainder of the $7 million they owe him this season. Naturally, Gutierrez is on the DL with hamstring problems, so he probably won't be healthy enough to trade anyway. Such is the Seattle Mariners.
Well, at least they have a pulse
Justin Ruggiano – Ruggiano had a great 2012 posting a .909 OPS, but that success hasn't carried over to this season where he is hitting .233/.298/.432 in a platoon role. He obviously isn't going to change any team's playoff fortunes, but he can make for quality depth. And since he plays for the Marlins, you know he is more than available.
Michael Saunders – Once a top prospect, Saunders never panned out for the Mariners. However, he could be useful as a bench player since he can work a walk, play all the outfield positions and has a little bit of pop. There is also the off chance that a change of scenery could unlock some of the potential that Seattle has managed to kill in most of their top position player prospects.