Position-by-position trade deadline preview: Center field

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This is the seventh in a series of articles looking at players who might be available in the days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
B.J. Upton (Rays) – Upton has frustrated the Rays with his lack of effort at times and this makes two straight years in which he hasn’t hit much at all, but it looks like the team still isn’t ready to give up on him. While his name came up in the Cliff Lee rumors and he’s been mentioned in connection with the Nationals, Phillies and Dodgers, the belief is that he’s staying. The Rays aren’t ready to turn center field over to top prospect Desmond Jennings just yet.
Chris Young (Diamondbacks) – Young certainly would have been a lot easier to acquire over the winter. With a .269/.334/.468 line, 17 homers and 63 RBI in 98 games, he’s currently living up to the contract that will pay him $5 million next year, $7 million in 2012, $8.5 million in 2013 and either $11 million or a $1.5 million buyout in 2014. The Diamondbacks as a whole, on the other hand, have continued to disappoint and want to cut back payroll, which is why Young might be available. It’d still be quite a surprise if he were dealt.
Cody Ross (Marlins) – Ross fits better in a corner, but he remains an option in center field. It’s where the Marlins have been using him since they called up Mike Stanton to take over in right. After back-to-back years of 20 homers and OPSs right around 800, Ross is currently hitting .270/.325/.404 with nine homers through 374 at-bats. The Phillies, Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers have expressed interest in him anyway, though the Dodgers would seem to be out of the mix after picking up Scott Podsednik. Because of the Chris Coghlan injury, the Marlins are leaning towards keeping him, at least for a couple of more months. He’ll be a prime non-tender candidate in the offseason if he fails to put up a strong second half.
Coco Crisp (Athletics) – Crisp has had big problems staying on the field the last two years, but he’s the one legitimate leadoff-hitting center fielder potentially available and that would seem to give him some trade value. The Padres bid on him in the offseason and still have a need for him now, and he’d be quite a weapon as a part-timer for the Braves, White Sox, Yankees or Rays. The A’s could choose to retain him and exercise his $5.75 million option for 2011, but as much time as he’s missed, he should come cheaper than that next year.
Jim Edmonds (Brewers) – Back after a year off, Edmonds has posted an impressive .289/.353/.513 line in 197 at-bats for Milwaukee this year. He’s no everyday center fielder at this stage of his career, but his bat makes it worth living with his diminished range, at least when the opponent is throwing a right-hander. He can also serve as a backup first baseman. This is probably his last season, but he hasn’t expressed a desire to finish his career with a World Series contender. The Brewers figure to keep him unless he requests a move next month.
Corey Patterson (Orioles) – Patterson filled in admirably as the Orioles’ leadoff hitter with Brian Roberts on the shelf, and though his production has tailed off recently, he’s still at a respectable .274/.325/.404 in 223 at-bats. He’s also stolen 17 bases in 20 attempts. No contender is going to want him as a regular, but he’d be awfully useful off the bench if he could maintain that kind of line. Too bad most suspect that he can’t.
Willie Harris (Nationals) – Not that he would have brought a king’s ransom in return, but the Nationals missed out on their chance to sell high on Harris a year ago. After three straight seasons in which he proved quite valuable while racking up about 350 at-bats a year, he’s fallen all of the way to .184/.287/.355 in 141 at-bats in 2010. Given that he plays left and right very well, center adequately and second and third if necessary, he could still be a fit for several contenders. A return to Chicago with the White Sox would make some sense.
Chris Dickerson (Reds) – Dickerson, who has been on the DL since the end of April with a broken hamate bone, is hitting .429/.515/.821 through nine games in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. The strong showing might prompt the Reds to have him replace Laynce Nix on the bench, but they’d likely still be willing to send him elsewhere in return for a prospect. Dickerson is out of options, so sending him down until rosters expand isn’t an option.
Catcher
First base
Second base
Third base
Shortstop
Left field & right field

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.