The Oakland Athletics already signed Matt Joyce, a corner outfielder, but the team is still in the market for a center fielder.
The A’s went half of the 2016 season without a true center fielder after trading Billy Burns to the Kansas City Royals. Jake Smolinksi was primarily in center during the last part of the season, but he’s nothing more than a fourth outfielder.READ MORE: El Dorado County Braces For Flooding After Caldor Fire
There are a number of center fielders in the free agent market, but in normal Athletics fashion, they won’t be in play for some of the bigger name options.
Andrew McCutchen, arguably the best center fielder in baseball, is currently on the trade market, but the Athletics aren’t expected to make a run for him.
If we take trades out of the discussion, because those are hard to predict, the A’s will most likely address its center field issue through free agency.
Here are the top three center field options the Athletics could pursue in free agency:
1. Carlos Gomez
A couple seasons ago, acquiring Carlos Gomez would have been completely out of the picture for Oakland. At one point in his career, he was considered a rare five-tool player.
After all-star seasons in 2013 and 2014, Gomez had the worst seasons of his career in the two following years for the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
It would be a high risk signing for the Athletics, but one which could pay off if he returns to his all-star form. Because of his recent struggles, he shouldn’t earn too much money in free agency.
The 31-year-old veteran showed signs that he can still be a quality center fielder after arriving in Texas late in the year. In 33 games with the Rangers, he hit .284 with eight home runs.
The biggest area for concern is his poor attitude. When things aren’t going his way, he can be a cancer on the field and in the club house.
2. Rajai DavisREAD MORE: Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care Barred From Caring For Bears Until It Makes Changes To Enclosure
Rajai Davis had some of the best years of his career while playing for the Athletics from 2008-10. During his time in Oakland, Davis hit for a .287 average with 116 stolen bases.
Now 36 years old, the speedy center fielder will hit the free agent market after making a World Series appearance with the Cleveland Indians last season.
Davis stole a career high 43 stolen bases last season for the Indians while playing in 134 games. He may be up there in age, but his speed can still be a useful weapon.
He’s reliable in the field and can provide the Athletics with a speed threat at the top of the lineup. Oakland struggled to find a lead off hitter last season, but Davis would fill that role perfectly.
3. Austin Jackson
At one point in his career, Austin Jackson was one of the top young center fielders in baseball. Now 29 years old, Jackson is more known as the guy who just never panned out.
He had a great season for the Detroit Tigers in 2012 when he hit .300 with 16 home runs and 66 RBI. His career success has gone downhill since that point.
Jackson played in just 54 games for the Chicago White Sox last season due to injuries, but the numbers he put up while healthy were not impressive.
He’s a speedy center fielder with some pop in his bat, but his strikeout rate is alarming.
If the Athletics are interested in signing Jackson, it would be at a low price and he would probably have a short leash. Jackson may not have too many opportunities left. If he has the motivation to turn his career around, he might be a sneaky signing during this year’s free agency.Kings Home Opener Brings Life To Downtown, Stresses Business