2021 Center Field Options
Thursday, October 08 2020 @ 02:53 PM EDT
Contributed by: John Northey
So for 2021 what are the Jays CF options? First of a series (hopefully - depends on time). 2020 saw it being Randal Grichuk 48 games, Teoscar Hernandez 7, Davis 5, Biggio 3, Alford 2 (funny, just 5 times 2 guys in a single game played there). What to do for 2021?
Lets start with guys here...
Alford was let go mid-summer so no point digging into him.
- Randal Grichuk: At 28 he had one of his best years - 114 OPS+, 0.6 fWAR, 0.1 bWAR (ugh), 3.5 fRuns offense, -3.1 defense, 0.1 base running. -11.8 UZR/150 in CF, -3.0 lifetime. In LF/RF lifetime he is a positive defender, not wow, but solid. Time to move him out of CF if possible.
- Teoscar Hernandez: His offense is well known, 12.8 fRuns on offense but negative on defense (mostly RF). In a shocker his CF defense in 2020 was solid - +17.7 UZR/150 but I trust his lifetime -9.9 more than this 55 inning sample. If he is in CF then something has gone very wrong or it should be deep into extra innings.
- Jonathan Davis: was a positive with the bat somehow, and a negative with the glove somehow this year. I trust his 61 wRC lifetime over the 123 in 34 PA this year. Lifetime figures on defense are 4.6 UZR/150 in CF (275 innings), 27.4 in RF (46 innings), -21.1 in LF (57 Innings). Great 5th OF, lousy starter with that 61 wRC no matter how nice that glove is.
- Cavan Biggio: Offense is solid but like Hernandez this isn't his position. In his brief 23 innings his UZR/150 was -0.1 in CF. Overall for the OF his UZR is -23.8 lifetime (196 innings). I suspect if left there he'd do better but isn't a real solution imo.
Minor leaguers: a bit tougher as there are few stats this year for Jay minor leaguers (a few played in indy leagues which can be hit or miss for finding stats). I'll list who was at each of the top 3 levels in 2019, then other prospects who might make it in 2021. Ages are the age they will be on July 1st, 2021
None of these guys jump out at me as likely to be in CF on opening day. Wall has a chance, but remote, and more remote is Martin. Rest I'd say are no chance.
- AAA: Roemon Fields (age 30, 254/324/321 in 2019), Davis, Alford, Hernandez (all addressed above), Sócrates Brito (a corner OF really), Pompey & Ben Revere (both no longer here)
- AA: Forrest Wall (age 25, 268/351/422 in 2019 overall, was in summer camp), Josh Palacios (Age 25, 266/371/416 used in all 3 OF slots), Santiago Espinal (super-utility), plus under 5 games each for Vinny Capra, Gunnar Heidt, and Patrick Kivlehan (at summer camp - a AAAA guy).
- A+: Chavez Young (age 23, 247/315/354, meh), Cal Stevenson (traded to Houston as part of deal for Fisher), Reggie Pruitt (age 24, 265/343/363 48 SB - was the regular in A ball), plus Davis, Pompey, and Hunter Steinmetz (age 24, 621 OPS in A/A+).
- Others: Austin Martin - Age 22, #5 overall draft pick, Jays first in 2020 - 377/507/660 in NCAA in 2020 over 16 games. 368/474/532 career in NCAA 665 PA. Could be in CF/3B/2B/SS - who knows? Was at Summer Camp.
Other options... starting with free agents
So for free agents there are options, but only Springer and Bradley are worth looking at imo. After that you get corner guys who can cover in a pinch like Hernandez and Grichuk.
- George Springer: Entering age 31 season, great offense (146 wRC+ this year, 134 lifetime), but not so great defense (-4.0 UZR/150 this year over 338 innings, +1.8 lifetime over 2248 innings). In RF his lifetime figure is +2.9 in over 4000 innings. Just 3 innings in LF. So he should be decent in CF on defense, but that offense would be sweet.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.: Entering age 31 season, 119 wRC last year, 88 lifetime - so his offense is not likely to be impressive. But defense... 5.5 UZR/150 last year, 6.3 UZR lifetime. Nice and a LOT better than we are used to here.
- Joc Pederson: Entering age 29 season, more of a LF lately, but figured can't hurt to check. 116 OPS+ lifetime, just 84 last year after 2 years in the 120's. wRC 118 lifetime vs 88 last year. -3.6 UZR/150 lifetime in CF (3149 innings) vs 9.1 in LF and 6.2 in RF. Type of guy who like Grichuk is pushed too far in CF I'd think. An option if a corner OF is traded but I'd hope not for CF.
- Starling Marte: Age 32 season, 109 wRC this year, 100 lifetime, -0.9 UZR/150 2020, -1.1 lifetime. A meh option imo. A guy who doesn't hurt you or help you much.
- Others are like Pederson - not really CF's anymore, but once were or were tried there - Yoenis Céspedes, Yasiel Puig, Michael Brantley. Jays are nuts if they go for them as none would help the defense in CF - might as well put Hernandez there if you are doing that.
Trade options: the hardest part - because who knows who is available and not? Listing the guys who played in CF as regulars this year.
Ugh. Not much there. Doubt we'll see a trade. Listed Kiermaier more due to Rays being super-cheap and the lack of other options - in any trade with Tampa I'd be making sure I still had my arms and legs as any deal with them will cost you at least one of those. There are others with lower inning totals in CF in 2020 but that is what the comments section here is for - lets see other players and what you each think it would take to get them. If a guy is pre-arb though I'd figure the cost would be sky high if he is any good.
- Some we can write off immediately: Mike Trout, Aaron Hicks, (signed long term); Victor Robles, Kyle Lewis, Ian Happ, Cody Bellinger, Luis Robert, Ramon Laureano, Trent Grisham (very early in career so most would demand a kings ransom);
- Avisail Garcia - Brewers - entering age 30 season, 81 wRC+ 2020, 102 lifetime, 8.8 UZR/150 2020, -4.7 lifetime, 13.2 LF/-0.6 RF lifetime, Owed $10.75 mil 2021, $12 mil or $2 mil buyout 2022. A guy scouting would be needed on - is his offense as bad as it was in 2020, or is it closer to the 112 he did in 2019, 138 in 2017? His fielding is it bad as it was in CF pre-2020, or is he the good fielder he was in 2020? Certainly an interesting potential target - Milwaukee is a poor team so they will be wanting to cut salary most likely.
- Kevin Kiermaier: unlikely as he is a Ray under contract for 2 + buyout, but they are a very, very cheap team. Entering age 31 season, 93 wRC+ in 2020, 97 lifetime, 30.7 UZR/150 in 2020 (wow), 15.8 lifetime. His contract is for $11/$12/$13 or $2.5 buyout. Given his age and contract (possibly the highest on the Rays, him or Snell depending how you cut it) I could see the Rays trading him but wanting a ton in exchange.
If the Jays want to upgrade in CF I think Springer is the only real choice with Bradley a weak backup. If the Rays do decide to cut payroll then chase Kiermaier but be careful. Otherwise sticking with what is here is probably (sadly) the best option, hoping Wall is ready or Martin is ready mid-season.