Hot Stove League Rankings: Left Field

In our second installment of the companion piece to riverfront76's Cleo, Caldecott and Canadian Grammy Award-winning Compare & Contrast series, we turn to the progressive corner of the outfield, the Left Field - or, Field Gouche. Here we look at the handful of positions in which the Reds have potential openings to fill during the off-season and may tap a fresh face as Opening Day starter, whether by free agency, trade or promotion from within. I'll be returning to this list throughout the offseason to add /drop players and  provide a range of salary and trade bounty estimates as we know more about the Reds' payroll and the league-wide market.

Ranking explained: This list only ranks players on their projected value in 2011 and that projected value is based on my own personal biases and dartboard science. Players listed here can take a hit for their potential to quickly transmogrify into a Bad Contract or if they require an exorbitant trade "ask," but I'm mostly looking at each player's near-term value ('11 and '12), with the assumption that the Reds could somehow, some way, afford them and that any hypothetical deal would turn out "fair" on both sides.

Criteria to qualify for the list: Free agents OR anyone with a modicum of buzz  - in a halfway reputable news source -  as a candidate to switch teams this off-season via trade, declined option or possible non-tender.

Current Standings

After the jump.

Rank Name June 2011 Age Contract Details 2010 slash line 2010 WAR 2010 Value ($) Average value, last 3 yrs ($)
1 Carl Crawford 29 FA .307/.356/.495 (657 PAs)
6.9 $27.4M $21.3M
2 Jayson Werth 32 FA .296/.388/.532 (652 PAs)
5.0 $20M $21.6M
3 Matt Kemp 26 $6.95M in '11 (final year of arb in '12)
.249/.310/.450 (668 PAs)
0.4 $1.5M $12.7M
4 David DeJesus 31 $6M Club option ($0.5 buyout)
.318/.384/.443 (394 PAs)
2.6 $10.3M $12.2M
5 Josh Willingham 32 Arb-eligible .268/.389/.459 (450 PAs)
2.7 $11.0 $11.7M
6 Luke Scott 33 Arb-eligible .284/.368/.535 (517 PAs)
3.1* $12.5M $9.4M
7 Coco Crisp 31 $5.57M Club option ($0.5 buyout) .279/.342/.438 (328 PAs)
3.3 $13.1M $8.2M
8 Nolan Reimold 27 Arb-eligible .207/.282/.328 (131 PA) 0.0 N/A N/A
9 Laynce Nix 30 Arb-eligible .291/.350/455 (183 PAs) 1.5 $5.9M $3.4M
10 Chris Heisey 26 Pre-arb .254/.324/.433 (226 PAs) 1.3 $5.2M N/A
11 Connor Jackson 29 Arb-eligible .228/.362/.316 0.3 $1.2M $3.5M
12 Jonny Gomes
30 $1.75M Club option .266/.327/.431 -0.1 N/A $433,000
13 Carlos Lee 35 $18.5M in '11, $18.5M in '12 .246/.291/.417 (649 PAs) -0.8 N/A $8.0M
14 Andruw Jones 34 FA .230/.341/486 (328 PAs) 1.8 $7.4M $2.47M
15 Wladimir Balentien 26 Pre-arb (out of options)
At AAA Lousiville: .282/.337/.536 in 452 PA N/A N/A N/A

*Only 13 starts in LF in 2010.

Also receving votes: Daniel Dorn, Marcus Thames, Austin Kearns, Todd Frazier, Juan Rivera.

Analysis: Like I've been telling that Al Pacino-style creep-fan who lives under the Roebling bridge, Carl Crawford is not moving to Cincinnati for you. Neither is Jayson Werth, even if he kind of looks like he lives under the Roebling Bridge. So unless there's a major cashflow injection, just cross them off the list right now. Anyone under the Balentien Line is probably not worth chasing either, as they'd probably be a more expensive and roughly lateral move. But there are some possibilities there for bench depth or platooning, if the price is right.

One name I'd put my tentative support behind would be Luke Scott. His fielding may be slipping (he spent the vast majority of 2010 as a DH or 1B) but his career OPS against righties is .935. He could pair up well with Chris Heisey or Jonny Gomes, while seeing a bump in production by leaving the AL East. And he's likely cheaper to land than the names ahead of him on this list.

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