9 center fielders the Indians could target before the MLB trade deadline

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)  
We're just 26 days away from Major League Baseball's trade deadline, and the Cleveland Indians have an opportunity to upgrade a major position of need if they want to make a legitimate run to the playoffs. While they've already addressed holes at shortstop and third base internally, the center field position remains a major roadblock both offensively and defensively.

Michael Bourn poses a problem on several fronts. His offense and defense was lost somewhere along the way on his trip from Atlanta-to-Cleveland back in 2013, which has left major issues in the day-to-day line-up. But the biggest issue remains that untenable contract, and with $20.75 million still left over the next 1 1/2 seasons, making that contract go away isn't going to be easy.

Is the Indians' front office able to accept the fact that the deal was a failure and either DFA him, or pay him to go away in a trade? Or, will he end up being a really expensive fourth or fifth outfielder, and continue to clog Chris Antonetti's ability to make this roster the best it can be?

The answers aren't easy, so for today, we're going to assume that the Indians are going to be buyers on the market, and are willing to do something with Michael Bourn the takes him off of the active roster.

I know, it's hard to suspend disbelief these days, but give it a try.

We also have to take into account a couple of other factors: money coming in, and Bradley Zimmer. If the Indians are going to eat $20 million-plus, then they likely aren't going to want to commit a ton of money to another player. The Indians also have heir apparent Zimmer shredding High A Lynchburg right now, and with a promotion to Akron likely in the next couple of weeks, they aren't going to want to clog up centerfield by trading for a guy that's making starter money, but playing on the bench. So let's assume that Zimmer becomes a legitimate thread to come up to the big leagues next July, and takes the position for his own by 2017.

There's a lot to play with there regarding Zimmer, but I think we can agree that the Indians aren't going to want a lot of money tied up into a player they bring in, unless there's money going out as well.

Let's take a look at a few players that could be available if the Indians look outside the organization, and the likelihood that the Indians would seriously inquire for their services.

(On a quick aside, the defensive metrics were so varying for a lot of these players, that they are sincerely useless. One website uses this, and another uses that. One persons likes this metric for this player, but not for that player. In the end, I tried to utilize some of the metrics, as well as some video, and all are opinion based. I'm not trying to take over the world, just looking for a list of players that could very well be available over the next seven weeks, either by the non-waiver, or waiver trade deadlines. If you don't agree, awesome)

1. Cameron Maybin, Atlanta Braves

The Braves certainly aren't necessarily on the pure seller's market. They're current record is 40-41, and they've played good baseball, at times, this year. Still, they are likely playing this season with the understanding that they won't really contend for a World Series title until next season.

That brings me to Maybin, a former top ten Major League prospect, who has never really lived up to his prodigious talent. Maybin was a Detroit Tigers' top prospect, who was dealt to Miami (then Florida) in the now infamous 2007 Miguel Cabrera deal. He played so well, that the Marlins handed him off to the San Diego Padres for former Indians hand Edward Mujica, and current Indians reliever Ryan Webb in 2010, and was recently sent to the Braves in the Craig Kimbrel and Mevin Upton salary dump.

Now, he's playing like it's 2007 all over again.

There's a lot to like with Maybin, even if there really isn't a body of work to suggest he's a "star." He has a revamped and compact swing that has him hitting to all parts of the field. He's getting on base, he has a nice approach at the plate, and he's become a mainstay at the #2 spot in the Braves order. 

Defensively, there have always been question marks, but he has only made two errors so far this year. His UZR is terrible, but I'm never going to let a small sample size with regards to UZR effect what some scouts have seen this year. Maybin's issue has always been health and consistency, and he has both, so far this year.

Maybin's contract could be an issue going forward for the Indians, depending on what they did with Bourn. He's still owed $3 1/2 million this year, $8 million next year, and has a $9 million team option in 2017, with a $1 million buyout attached to it.

You also have to consider health. While he's healthy now, it's always been an issue for the once-top-prospect.

If he performs, it's a pretty decent contract, but not if you have to swallow the rest of the money that Bourn will be making. The years, however, work great if you are considering Bradley Zimmer, and if he's not quite ready in 2017, Maybin has that team option.

The other thing to consider is that former Indians' General Manager John Hart is the current President of baseball operations, and rumor has it, he knows Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonneti.

2. Ben Revere, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are in utter turmoil right now, and will no doubt be looking at making a move. The 27-year old Revere is on the block, and was already almost traded this weekend, if not for the cold feet of the Anaheim Angels. I'll get to that in a second.

Revere was a former top 100 prospect for the Minnesota Twins, before they traded him to the Phillies to help bolster their minor league pitching. What was shocking about that deal is that the Twins had just moved their other center fielder, Denard Span. while they had a nice prospect behind Span and Revere, many thought Revere was going to get his shot.

While Maybin could become a star, at least offensively, Revere is definitely not in the same category with regards to upside. He really is, what he is. He can hit a bit, he's a career .291 hitter, which is exactly where is batting average is as I write this piece. He has no power to speak of, and has a purely aweful BB%. Of course, he counters that with an elite K%, so at least there is some balance there.

His .322 BABIP is near his career average, but his wRC+ is about where you would expect it, at 96. Offensively, he's pretty a pretty average sorta hitter. Is he better than Bourn offensively?

Who isn't.

Revere has 19 stolen bases, and is the Phillies lead-off hitter. I don't think his low OBP merits a lead-off spot with the Indians, but he would be a solid addition offensively to the bottom of the order.

Defensively, I love Revere. His range is absolutely insane, and he's as scrappy as they get in the outfield. He doesn't have a strong arm, but his range in the outfield gets him more assists than not. He's spectacular out there, and has a tendency to make plays that runners don't expect. He also has these moments in which he makes ungodly throws.

The knock on Revere is that he can't read the ball off his bat, which leads to his one true skill, speed, taking over. He can outrun mistakes.

No, he's not consistent, but does have his moments.

Maybin has questions about his defense, while Revere's only question is his arm. He steals bases, and would make the bottom of the line-up really solid.

What about his contract?

Check this out: He's signed through the end of this year, and becomes arbitration eligible next year. He doesn't become a free agent until 2018. The Indians could deal for him, then have control until 2018, if they want to. He'd be a nice center fielder in the mean time, and would likely be slightly below the cost of Maybin. He's due about $2 million this year, and would have to imagine that he'd make between $6-and-$7 million next year.

Now, about that deal with the Angels. They offered up Revere for a top ten reliever in the Angels organization, Trevor Gott. I like Gott a lot as a reliever...but he's a reliever. The Angels backed out at the last second.

In other words, the Indians could got out and get Revere right now, if they wanted. I think there's a decent chance Revere ends up with the Indians.

3. and 4. Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra, Milwaukee Brewers

If I'm a betting man, a lot of focus is going to be placed on both Gomez and Parra, going forward, as potential trade bait. Both are playing well, and both have contracts that the Brewers would like to unload, for different reasons. The Brewers are playing out of this world baseball right now, which could hold them up a bit, regarding trades, but they are 18 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, and would need a MAMMOTH second half to overtake the Cards. They are ten games back of the wild card as well.

What does that mean? They'll likely only deal one of the two, unless they are blown away by an offer.

Gomez is due in the ballpark of $13 million over the next two years, while Parra becomes a free agent at the end of the season. I'll get to the contracts in a second.

Parra is the likely asset to get moved, and my bet is that he'll be highly sought after. The 28-year old can play all three outfield positions, and play them pretty well. He has a canon of an arm, decent range, and phenomenal instincts as a fielder. While he doesn't have the talent that make you ever thing superstar, he has the type of mentality that can rub off on other players. For the Indians, he would be an idea defender.

Offensively, Parra can have streaks of brilliance, and this year he's been streaking since May. After hitting .222 in April, Parra's been crushing the NL, hitting .327, with six homers, 13 doubles and 30 runs since May 1st. While he's certainly playing above his averages, the fact that he's been doing all of this playing center (when Gomez was injured), and then the other two positions once he returned, says it all. You could make a solid case he's the Brewers best player.

Parra really would be the perfect player to come to the Indians, but of course there's that contract. He currently makes $6.237 million with the Becomes a free agent after the season. He would no doubt be a half-season rental for the Tribe, who won't pay him the $10-plus million he could stand to make on the free agent market, especially considering the Bourn and Nick Swisher contracts.

The Brewers will ask for a lot, and the Indians will offer a little. Doesn't seem to make sense, unless the Indians could coerce him to sign a one-year deal while Zimmer gets ready.

I see a fit in ability, but not as a trade partner...unless they could get him during the waiver period, which would be a lot more likely.

The more talked about name here is Carlos Gomez, who stood out to me in a conversation I had with fellow EHC writers Steve Orbanek and Michael Hattery. Gomez has been electric offensively, with 66 home runs leading into this season. His power, combined with 111 stolen bases during that same period, makes him pretty elite.

He's not without issues though. His BB% is shoddy 5.6% over his career, with a 22.5% K-rate. Both are bad, and not likely to get better. His OBP has always been below what you'd expect. What you are getting with Gomez is a guy who is better suited to the middle-of-the-lineup, but can break a game open with his speed.

He's like Grady Sizemore, without the walks. In my opinion, that makes him considerably worse, but we aren't comparing him to Grady's prime, we're comparing him to Bourn's past-prime years.

He's definitely an upgrade.

Defensively, I've heard a couple of differing opinions. I don't know Gomez all that well defensively, so I've spent the past two weeks watching a lot of video. He can play center, and do it in a spectacular manner. He is athletic, and can rob a hitter over the wall. He's rangy, and can make a phenomenal play. He has batter instincts than a guy like Revere, but can overcompensate for misreads with plus-speed. He even has an above average arm, and good instincts.

At 29, he's likely past his prime, and when you mention past-prime and center field, you can't help but think Bourn, but Gomez obviously brings a different skill set that isn't always centered around speed. Gomez also is only signed for 1 1/2 more years, at a similar cost to Maybin's $13 million.

Gomez did miss some games early this season (which is why Parra got time there), and at 29 with the way he plays center, always sends up a red flag, but doesn't seem like a high cost for a potential huge bat. Of course, the Brewers will ask for a boatload for Gomez-like talent, and that's likely the issue.

5. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox

How many times have you heard Bradley's name over the past four seasons? Indians' fans have watched him over the years in Boston, pondering whether or not he would ever win a spot in Boston, and thinking that he could possibly find roaming center field.

Bradley was a top 100 prospect for the Sox in both 2013 and 2014, and has simply destroyed minor league pitching over his career.

Of course, that has yet to translate to the majors, as his phenomenal eye at the plate in the minors (156 walks and 225 strikeouts in 285 total games) hasn't translated to the bigs (45 walks and 162 strikeouts in 178 total games).

His upside offensively is hard to work through. Is he the guy that has 15 HR/30 SB potential, or is he a K-machine, that is over-matched at the big league level? Dare I say Quad A?

Where Bradley will immediately help at the big league level is defense. While he was deplorable offensively in 2014, his range and arm in center made him a plus defender. I'm always interested in a player that continues to play defense well, even though he may be the worst offensive player in baseball, and that's exactly what was happening in 2014.

The Red Sox still value Bradley Jr., and they should, but he's obviously lost some of the luster that he had prior to 2014. When you combine this with the fact that another top 100 prospect has seemed to grab the center field position for the Sox in Mookie Betts, and you have the potential for a deal to be made.

Bradley wouldn't become a free agent until the 2020 season, and likely wouldn't make much more than $550,000 next year. He's not even arbitration eligible until 2017, so money is definitely not an issue. The big question here is whether or not Bradley is major league ready in any form other than defense. While he'd be an upgrade defensively, he would be worse than Bourn (ugh) offensively, unless you think Van Burkleo can turn him around at the plate.

Of course, it could be just getting out of Boston that fixes him, that's how good offensively he is in the minors.

The other factor here is that Bradley would be a long-term option in center, and the Indians don't really need that. Of course, Zimmer would be fine in right field if Bradley would pan out. Imagine that range...tasty, right? And c'mon...Bradley Zimmer and Jackie Bradley? We'd have two guys that could wipe away the memory of that other gameboard Bradley...right?

If you could get him on the cheap, I'd be interested, and why stop there. You could likely deal a minor league position player for him, and still go after one of these other guys.

6. Austin Jackson, Seattle Mariners

I only have him listed at six because he's likely going to get brought up. We all know Jackson from his days with the Tigers, and in his prime, he was borderline elite. He had speed to spare, was a fantastic baserunner, and was a plus defender.

Before I go any further with this though, I'm not saying he's a bad player. What I'm saying is that he's a diminishing player.

Think Bourn, right before we got him.

Now I like Jackson, and I think in a limited fashion, he could help a team out, but I'm not sure you want to give up the amount you would have to give to get a name like Jackson, when you could likely get a better player for the same amount or less.

He has always struck out a lot, and now he's not walking as much. His average is down, and in case you hate traditional stats, his wRC+ dropped three consecutive years heading into this one, and it's tied for last years as we speak. His defense has been decent, but you could make a case that's it has been erratic at best.

He still makes plays, has decent range, and is an upgrade out there over Bourn, but the fact that I can't get Bourn out of my head when mentioning him gives me all of the information that I need.

Like Parra, Jackson is a rental player, as he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. If you can get him on the cheap, fine, but otherwise, get Parra if you are pondering Jackson. Parra is just the better player right now.

It's also worth noting that Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez are with the M's. Okay, maybe it's not worth noting.

6. Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

I will willingly admit that I don't know much about Blackmon, mainly because I think all of their hitters are immediately suspect. On quick perusal, Blackmon almost hits 100 points higher at Coors than anywhere else, so I should just end it there.

But I won't...although I won't waste much space here.

Blackmon is a lead off hitter with decent speed, and that translates everywhere. Defensively, he's generally considered a plus defender, and there's some scrap there, but I just don't see the fit. He's a home field sorta offensive player, that is arguably a plus defender, and at one point recently was battling for center with Drew Stubbs.

Now I like Stubbs, but do you want to trade for that guy?

Honestly, I think we have a Charlie Blackmon (less power, more defense) in the minor leagues named Tyler Holt, and we don't have to deal for him.

You'll hear about Blackmon, but I just don't think you need to go there. The Indians would have control over him through 2019, if you do think he's a player to consider.

7. Billy Burns, Oakland A's

He can simply fly.

Whenever I've heard Billy Burns name, Billy Hamilton is always almost certainly to follow. I certainly believe that Hamilton is always a player that's going to carry more flash than Burns, but I do think you can discuss both players in the same breath.

Let me put it to you this way. If Burns every had the "steal always" mentality, I think he would steal just as many bases as Hamilton. Thing is, I think Burns is an elite level baserunner, who only takes chances when they favor him.

So why would Billy Beane consider dealing a guy that is under control through the 2021 season? First off, he's Billy Beane, and I think he'd trade himself if he thought he could improve his team. Secondly, I'm not really sure that Beane considers this speed guy as a long-term center field option.

Burns' .320 average is likely a "sell-high" statistic right now, but he doesn't strike out much, makes fantastic contact, and has always been a high OBP candidate. This is a player that could push Kipnis to the two-hole, and give the heart of the lineup a guy that's on base a ton.

I've always liked speedy players, but I've always hated that players like Billy Hamilton allow their speed to let them "play dumb." Burns doesn't play dumb in the least, and his game has transitioned to the Big Leagues quite well.

What his game doesn't do, is translate to other positions, so it's center field or bust.

How likely are the Indians to acquire him? Beane will value him highly in July, and it would cost the Indians a decent prospect for sure, so I almost stop there. If their hole in center seemed to be long term, I think I'd move him up to my top two or three here, but I still think he's worthy of keeping an eye on.

You're talking about a guy making half-million, who could be a long-term option, and could really change the dynamics of the top of the order.

Hell, add Ben Zobrist to the deal, and make it bigger, then we can all go home smiling...

Oh, and #JustSayNotoSamFuld.

8. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

I'm only bringing up Ozuna for two reasons, because I just don't see a team getting rid of a player who has high upside, and a ton of control. This is where a guy like the Marlins' Ozuna differs from a guy like Burns. While I love Burns because he's not flashy, his upside is limited in that he has no power to speak of.

Ozuna has boatloads of it.

But I think you can argue with regards to who fits with the Indians better.

Now before I get into the the "why is he #8," let's talk about what Ozuna can and can't do on the field. He has a ton of power, and projects to a 20-25 homer guy year-after-year, but only has four homers this season, which leads to question marks. He doesn't steal many bases, and isn't considered an elite runner, but, like I said, has a ton of power potential. He K's a ton, and walks a little.

You could say he's a hacker, and would be 100% correct.

He's new to center field, and was likely moved there out of necessity, and less out of outfield talent. Now he definitively has a cannon of an arm, but has a long way to go to be considered a good, year-to-year center fielder at the big league level. Still, he was decent last year, just has a ways to go.

He's full of question-marks as a player, and has regressed a bit power-wise, which is one of the reasons that I think the Marlins would consider dealing him. He's best suited for right field, and with Stanton signed through the year 3000, he's never going to see regular time there.

The Marlins also offered the Boras-led client a deal last year, and was turned down. That doesn't mean he won't ultimately sign, but there are other players in the Marlins system that may be better suited to center, even without the upside.

For the Indians, he would be a candidate to move to right once Zimmer makes his move, but my question here is, will he improve the team enough this year and next to merit the prospects he will cost?

He would be an interesting player to look at, but I'm not sure this is the team he would fit.

9. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins

Yelich is signed to a seven-year, $49.5 million deal, which likely means the Indians aren't going to even sniff at him, and equally likely that the Marlins aren't going to be dealing him, unless it's for something big.

He's also why a guy like Ozuna could be expendable, even with all that upside, but this isn't about Ozuna...this is about Yelich.

I simply love everything about him.

I love the fact that when the Marlins asked him to move from first base to the outfield, his simple and quick reply was, "Yes."

I love the fact that he won a gold glove in left field in his first full season in the bigs.

I love the fact that he was willing to sign a long-term contract after one full year in the big leagues. Of course, the Marlins are taking an equal risk.

He has above average speed, and good instincts both in the field, and on the basepaths, and the fact that he gets on base a ton, certainly doesn't hurt. He has a high BABIP, and while I'd love to think that his .356 average up to this point in his career is a norm, there's likely some slight regression, but who knows.

If he develops natural power, we could be looking at the second coming of elite-level Grady Sizemore.

So is he a possible trade candidate? Likely not, but Jeffrey Loria is the owner over there, so you just never know. I don't think he cares about the fan base enough to think, "Well, they'll be fired up if we deal a kid who we just signed long-term."

I still give this less than a 5% chance of even being considered.

But, you have to love a guy that can likely play all three positions, and can hit anywhere in the line-up. This year, he's had 10 games or more batting 2nd, 3rd and 6th, and has hit 5th eight times. That's downright Brantley-ish, and with a deal that keeps him in the fold through 2021, plus a team option in 2022, it could be a tasty get, if the Indians are willing to pay the price.

I just doubt they will.

10ish. Adam Eaton, Chicago White Sox

There's no way the Indians are going to find a deal for Adam Eaton, but, he is likely available, so let me just say a few words about him.

Defensively, I've always thought of him as an above average player with the extensive looks that I've gotten of him over the past 18 months, but there are numbers that question that. Why I question some of the numbers are that they actually say Eaton's a bad defender, which I don't buy. I think you can question how elite he is, but overall, I'd say he has good breaks to the ball, and the speed to compensate the bad ones.

In other words, he's better than Bourn, and he certainly has room to grow.

Offensively, there is a ton more questions, and he's scuffling this year to boot. What I love is that he has an elite eye at the plate (15.9% career K%, 7.7% career BB%), tons of speed, and when things go well, he is getting on base a bunch.

He does have 30 SB ability, but is, like Burns, a smart baserunner. When things are clicking, he's an ideal lead-off hitter. When things aren't, it can slog down your offense, just like Bourn. Right now, he's struggling, but at 26, there's plenty of upside to be had.

Of course, he plays for the White Sox, and he just signed a five-year extension. While that contract makes him tasty for teams like the Indians, it also wouldn't be a smart message to your fan base to deal a guy you just promised long-term security to.

Put that together, and I don't see Eaton even getting a sniff from the Indians, unless it's a three-team trade, and I'm certainly not going to walk down that path today.

In the end, I'm not even sure the Indians are going to make a deal for a center fielder because the cost certainly may outweigh the need this season.

The Indians are struggling with their one step forward, two steps back play this season, and the front office may not want to be players at the deadline, especially considering the log jam they have with Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn.

With that said, the most likely candidate for the Indians to make a play for right now is Ben Revere. He may cost the team one or two prospects in the 8-20 range, but woudn't that be a fair get for a guy that could improve both sides of the ball?

My personal favorite remains Cameron Maybin. While he's still a wild shot health-wise, and taking into consideration "body-of-work," if he continues to improve over the next couple of years, as he has this year, he could be the game-changer the Indians need to take the next step.

He's going to cost more than just a couple of middle-of-the-road prospects, but they can still get a deal done.

Growing on me, since I've started this piece, is Billy Burns. He has elite speed, high IQ, and could give the Indians that Brett Butler type presence at the top of the line-up. He isn't splashy, but certainly is a player that improves the team defensively, while upgrading the team offensively simply by not sucking.

Upgrading center field in the middle of any season is a difficult chore, and this year will be no different. With that said, there are choices out there, and likely more than has been published up to this point.

The key is coming up with the right deal, at the right time, and if there's one thing that Chris Antonetti has proven time-and-time again, these are the types of deals he does well with.

If the Indians decide to make a trade, have confidence that Antonetti will make the right choice, and for the right price.
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