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Athletics trade rumors: Oakland needs an answer in center field

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With Crisp's neck ailing, and Craig Gentry on the DL with a broken hand, the A's need a fill-in center fielder.

Can Rusney Castillo kill two birds with one stone?
Can Rusney Castillo kill two birds with one stone?
Dennis Grombkowski

So we all know the score. Back early in the season, we watched Coco Crisp neck-slam into a steel pole in the outfield wall which should have been padding. Ever since, Coco has been in and out of the lineup, and is now back in California getting his head examined. Turns out he has chronic degenerative changes in his neck, which sounds ominous.

His heir apparent, Craig Gentry, suffered a broken hand during a bunt attempt against Texas, and is now on the DL with an indefinite timeline to get back. The A's had to reach down into Double-A, and grab Billy Burns (who is basically Craig Gentry 2.0), to make sure they have at least one true centerfielder on the 25 man roster.

In the short term, with Burns acting more as a pinch runner than anything else, the A's seem to be employing Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick out in center field. The problem is that Cespedes can fill in, but is not a natural centerfielder.

Reddick, on the other hand, seems to be holding his own in center. While a natural right fielder, Reddick has spent time in center with the A's before. If Reddick falls back to his previous hitting struggles, playing a premium defensive position would help his value significantly, and allow for Cespedes, Moss and Vogt to spend more time in the lineup.

So we have some stopgaps in place for centerfield. We have two natural center fielders who are controlled past 2014, but with injury issues. Do the A's need to acquire a starting centerfielder? Or do they need another stopgap measure?

And remember, the A's biggest weakness remains the Middle Infield.

The Options

Chris Denorfia

The former A has had a steady role with San Diego as a backup outfielder. But Denorfia is not producing enough to be a worthwhile option, even as a stopgap measure. Denorfia's line of .242/.293/.319, wOBA of .275 and WAR of 0.6 in 89 games thus far is not encouraging. And while Petco Park does suppress hitters, Denorfia's .301 BABIP is right at average.

Sam Fuld

Fuld somehow, in only a few games, became a fan favorite and a prized OF for the front office, but was pushed out with the A's crowded outfield at the beginning of the season. Fuld is hitting .262/.353/.366 with a wOBA of .323 and 2.2 WAR already in just 59 games. Fuld, who was the odd man out due to Gentry returning from the DL, would be an excellent pickup to replace Gentry, who is now back on the DL. The sad part is that we would be trading talent to acquire a player that we had let go on waivers for the very person he would be replacing.

Rusney Castillo

The latest Cuban player to come over, Castillo profiles to some as a 4th outfielder, but is receiving a lot of attention from MLB teams. Castillo's best position is centerfield, which would help the A's out right now. There are also (rumors) Castillo has the ability to play second base, which if true, would make him an excellent pickup for the A's, filling in at two different positions of need, and with a fellow Cuban on the team in Cespedes.

Alex Rios

Rios has come back from the dead again this year, but comes with a hefty price tag. While the Rangers may be open to cover some of Rios' contract, they might not do that for a division rival. Even with money kicked in, Rios' option for 2015, with a $1 million buyout, is out of the A's range to pick up. Rios is probably only a corner outfielder in reality, so acquiring Rios has the chance of just putting the A's in the same position as they are now, but just with more money commitments and less room for hot hitters.

Other Trade Rumor News

Per Buster Olney, the Yankees are interested in acquiring Brett Anderson.

The A's inquired on Jon Lester, who has been scratched from his start tonight, indicating that a trade may be imminent.

The Cardinals are looking for pitching. Perhaps a partner in a three-way for a middle infielder, involving Milone or Hammel? Anyone? Anyone? No one?

Off Topic

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