A Tale Of Three Center Fielders…

The Cardinals, as you know, are in the market for a center fielder. They are rumored to be in on Dexter Fowler, which would be a nice acquisition, but I thought I’d explore another option, as well as compare those two to one that got away.

Here are the 2016 stats for our three CF

1) Fowler – .276 AVG, .393 OPB, .447 SLUG, 13 HR’s, 13 SB, average fielder.

2) Mystery Guest 1 -.284 AVG, .362 OBP, .428 SLUG, 14 HR’s, 14 SB, above average fielder.

3) Mystery Guest 2 – .291 AVG, 339 OBP, .389 SLUG, 2 HR’s, 2 SB,   above average fielder.

(note: for fielding, I’m using Range Factor per 9 Innings and Range Factor per Game and comparing it to the league average in those categories as a quick and dirty way to evaluate these guys. After all, CF is the outfield position where range matters the most.)

Mystery guest one is Adam Eaton. With the recent trade of Chris Sale, the belief is that the White Sox will be sellers now. Eaton is only 28, meaning he’s in his prime and will be for a while. He’s fairly well rounded, has a little pop, has a little speed, gets on base and fields well. He’s also very affordable, having signed a contract that locks him up until 2019 with team options for 2020 and 21. Basically, he’s guaranteed 18.4 Million, with  a possible 9.5 million year in 2020 and a 10.5 million dollar year in 2021. Both years he has a 1.5 million dollar buyout. While that does lockup CF until 2019, blocking it for any prospects, that’s less guaranteed years than Fowler will likely demand and at a much lesser financial cost for comparable production. The cost in prospects may be another matter, but I think it’s definitely worth exploring before handing a wad of cash to Fowler.

Mystery guest two is our old friend Jon Jay. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I wasn’t Jay’s biggest fan, however, in Jay’s past he’s gotten on base at a good rate and provided solid D according to the range factor method I’ve used. He also rebounded a bit last year, hitting .291, albeit without the plate discipline he’s had in the past. The contract he signed with the Cubs was only for a year, and just 8 million dollars, which makes me wonder why the Cards didn’t consider bringing him back. He’d have made a nice stall tactic while Harrison Bader gained some more seasoning in the minors. Again, I wasn’t Jay’s biggest fan, but the reasonable cost and short-term nature of the deal make it a sensible fit.

Of the three, (if Jay was hypothetically still out there) my preference would be Eaton. Less of a financial hit than Fowler and the youngest of the three. As long as the prospect hit isn’t too bad, Mo should definitely consider trading for him. I’d be happy to have Fowler, don’t get me wrong, but Eaton makes more sense.

As always, thanks for reading.

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