As the Phillies possibly look for a solution in the wake of Andrew McCutchen’s knee injury and Odubel Herrera’s situation, these five center fielders should be on their trade radar.
Over the last 7-10 days, the outfield situation for the Philadelphia Phillies has become murky. Odubel Herrera was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence on the night of May 27, and was immediately placed on administrative leave. That leave was extended to June 17 on Monday, which coincides with his first court date for the incident. At this point, a lengthy suspension seems certain for Herrera.
Monday night against San Diego Padres, Andrew McCutchen suffered a non-contact left knee injury during a rundown and he may be facing an extended absence himself. McCutchen had shifted from left to center field to take Herrera’s place, and now things look especially bad for the middle of Philadelphia’s outfield.
McCutchen has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, with the results of a MRI looming on Tuesday. While at first some time on the IL was the hope, it appears to have become a worse-case scenario. It was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that McCutchen has torn his ACL, ending his season.
Top prospect Adam Haseley will reportedly join the Phillies in San Diego, and be ready to be added to the roster at any moment. He’s been sold hitter so far this season at Double and Triple-A (.275/.358/.466 slash-line), while playing a total of 20 games in center field.
Matt Snyder of CBS Sports laid out some other in-house options the Phillies have to play center field, including Scott Kingery, Sean Rodriguez, the recently-acquired Jay Bruce and Bryce Harper. Harper played over 477 innings in center field for the Nationals last year, but he posted -10 defensive runs saved.
Philadelphia is clinging to first place in the NL East, with a five-game losing streaking trimming their lead to a half-game over the Atlanta Braves entering Tuesday’s action. So they can’t allow any glaring flaws to go unaddressed, and now center field is a big one.
The trade deadline is several weeks away, but here are five center fielders the Phillies should consider making a deal for right now.
5. Juan Lagares, New York Mets
The Mets are only 4.5 games back of the Phillies going into Tuesday, but they are below .500 (28-31) and seem unlikely to make a real push for a playoff spot. So a move to trade some pieces seems likely, even if it means sending someone to a division rival.
Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove in 2014, and he also hit .281. Since then he has become marginal, hovering around replacement-level numbers (51 games played this season, but only 25 starts). Even his defense has dropped off, with around 0.0 Defensive WAR (via Baseball Reference) going back through 2015. He accounted for 15 defensive runs saved in 2017 and 5 DRS just last year, but so far in 2019 he sits at -1.
Lagares is making $9 million this year, with a $9.5 million option for next year ($500,000 buyout). If the Mets are willing to eat some of that money, the Nationals would at least be getting an adequate defensive center fielder to fill that part of the void.