Over the last couple of weeks, I profiled the rental market for starting pitching and infielders, noting that while there are a few diamonds in the rough, the players for August through October rental will be determined largely on how the fringy teams perform through the middle and end of July.
There are currently 22 outfielders whose contracts expire at the end of the season, which range from cheap and productive (Jarrod Dyson) to the veteran and expensive (Matt Holliday).
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If nothing else, the list highlights that there may be some speedsters available to contenders if they would like to round out their team with a decent enough mid-tier outfielder.
The Mariners just acquired Jarrod Dyson from the Royals last month for right-handed swingman Nate Karns. He will take over in the vast center field of Safeco Field and bring with him excellent defense and baserunning. A decade ago, players with Dyson’s skillset were likely to be undervalued, but as defensive metrics advanced, and the impact of elite baserunning became more apparent (especially in the playoffs), the these types of players saw their stock increase.
If the Mariners do not look playoff-bound in late July, they would likely deal Dyson and get something decent in return. A three-win player with minimal salary obligation who can wreak havoc on the bases is an intriguing option for a contender.
36-year-old Rajai Davis signed a one-year, $6 million deal in Oakland. Despite his veteran status, Davis stole 43 bases on 49 attempts in 2016 and provided average defense for the Indians. While a .306 OBP is not exactly a game-changer, Davis still showed some pop and managed to hit double-digit home runs for the first time in his career last season. Davis will more likely than not end up on a different team than Oakland, as the Athletics’ track-record of dealing deadline talent is pretty well know at this point.
Despite the Mets having two players on this list, they have not been able to move either one. The age and high cost of both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce have kept both players in Queens despite a logjam in the outfield. The question here is less about whether the Mets contend in 2017, and more about how much they are willing to pay either player's eight-figure salary.
Granderson is only one year removed from a spectacular 2015 in which he posted a career-high .364 OBP in addition to his thirty home runs. At this stage in his career, Granderson is far more suitable hidden in a corner outfield spot or as the designated hitter than roaming the vast center field of Citi Field. It’s likely he would fetch more than Bruce, who is projected for less than half the value of Granderson (0.6 fWAR versus 1.5) at just slightly over the cost.
J.D. Martinez will be a free agent at the end of the year and can bring some serious pop to a contending team that can withstand his terrible defense. The Tigers’ window is no longer wide open, though it could be described as drafty. If Detroit goes full-out rebuild — which has been expected for some time but never seems to come to fruition — Martinez could be a good midseason DH addition for a contending team.
In 2016, JDM posted a .307 average and .373 OBP, while hitting 22 home runs in just 517 plate appearances. His 142 wRC+ ranked twelfth among all qualified hitters and fourth among all all outfielders, although his horrible defense dragged his value down quite significantly. Martinez finished with the worst DEF metric in the game per FanGraphs.
Carlos Gonzalez is one of the more interesting players on this list. The now-30-year-old slugger has been the subject of trade rumors for the better part of a few seasons. Until he departs Coors Field, CarGo will almost always have the reputation as being more of a benefactor of his home ballpark more than anything else. Gonzalez’ 121 wRC+ at home paled in comparison to his 94 wRC+ on the road in 2016.
There are certainly attainable options for contenders to seek this trade deadline. Whether it’s power, speed, or defense, there exists something for everyone in the outfield market this deadline.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano