Players filed for free agency yesterday, and Major League Baseball has released its list of its 2012 free agents. Clubs have exclusive negotiating rights with their players until Thursday, when they will be able to sign with any team. Here is a look at the 2012 free agent class of center fielders.
Players and teams have until Monday night to make decisions regarding their options. Players with either club and/or their own options are in italics.
Three names on the free agent list of center fielders are likely to jump out at you. Two players, Grady Sizemore and Nate McLouth, are not yet officially free agents, but their lack of production and pricy team options suggest they will be hitting the open market. Each is still relatively young and has been impressive in the past.
Sizemore’s credentials are loftier than McLouth’s, so we’ll start with him. The 29-year-old broke onto the scene with the Indians in 2005, posting an OPS of .832 over his 158 games played. Sizemore went on to represent the AL in the All-Star game three straight years, posting OPS’s north of .852 while averaging over 160 games played a season.
Health issues, specifically knee problems, have since hit Sizemore hard. The center fielder has only been able to suit up for 210 contests over the past three seasons, and injuries have stymied his offensive production. Sizemore did show flashes of his former self in 2011, but is still seems to be a trip to the DL waiting to happen.
McLouth made his name in Pittsburgh, putting up solid offensive numbers in 2007-08 before being shipped to Atlanta in 2009. As a member of the Braves, McLouth has lost his way at the dish, hitting only .229/.335/.364 over parts of three seasons. Still only 30, it’s TBD if McLouth can still be a productive everyday center fielder.
The third intriguing option is a guy who always seems to be on the trade/free agent market. Coco Crisp has spent two seasons roaming the outfield in Oakland. The 31-year-old put up respectable numbers in 2011, doubling 27 times while swiping an AL-leading 49 bags. Crisp does carry a career line of .275/.330/.406 and offers decent defense in center, so he should draw the interest of a few clubs.