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Deep Dive: Free Agent Center Fielders

Starling Marte and Chris Taylor lead this group.

Starling Marte hit .310 with 47 stolen bases last year. And signing him won’t cost a second-round pick.
| Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the White Sox organization. Each position is made up of five parts:

  1. Depth in the Rookie Leagues (Dominican and Arizona)
  2. Depth in A-Ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on a White Sox player
  5. Free-agent options

Luis Robert at center field is about as close to certainty as one could get for someone who’s played less than the equivalent of one full major league season.

However, with a vacancy in right field, the team could the Sox perhaps target a center fielder who could potentially fill that right-field opening? It may also behoove the Sox to look at an experienced, versatile gloveman who could come in for defensive purposes in late-inning situations at either corner, or perhaps fill in at center in case Robert is either injured or simply needs a rest.

Adam Engel is still on the roster, but has injury issues of his own the past couple seasons. Other 2021 options like Billy Hamilton and Leury García are now free agents themselves and may not be with the White Sox in 2022, so the White Sox may indeed look for center field depth. Lest I forget, there is at least one option found here who could be considered for second base.

Below are the free agent options whose primary position this year was center field.

(player age is as of April 1, 2022)

Starling Marte
Oakland Athletics
2021 bWAR: 4.7
Slash/power: .310/.383/.458 with 27 2B, 12 HR, 55 RBIs, 47 SB and 43 walks
Age: 33

Splitting his time this year with Miami and Oakland, he tied for the league lead in stolen bases. He has only played center and left field during his 11-year MLB career.

Chris Taylor
Los Angeles Dodgers
2021 bWAR: 2.6
Slash/power: .254/.344/.438 with 25 2B, 20 HR, 73 RBIs, 13 SB and 63 walks
Age: 31
Other positions played: 2B, LF, SS, 3B, RF

Having turned down the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, the White Sox would have to forfeit a second-round selection in order to acquire his services. He could be an option for second base/right field, as an improved version of Leury García.

Odubel Herrera
Philadelphia Phillies
2021 bWAR: 1.8
Slash/power: .260/.310/.416 with 27 2B, 13 HR, 51 RBIs, 6 SB and 29 walks
Age: 30
Other positions played: LF, RF

Solid season, but has off-field issues.

Brett Gardner
New York Yankees
2021 bWAR: 1.0
Slash/power: .222/.327/.362 with 16 2B, 10 HR, 39 RBIs and 60 walks
Age: 38
Other positions played: LF

This lefty has posted a career 44.3 bWAR over 14 years with the Yankees. Possible anger management issues.

Kevin Pillar
New York Mets
2021 bWAR: 0.5
Slash/power: .231/.277/.415 with 11 2B, 15 HR, 47 RBIs and 11 walks
Age: 33
Other positions played: LF, RF

Pillar hit .264 with 21 homers and 87 RBIs for the Giants in 2019.

Travis Jankowski
Philadelphia Phillies
2021 bWAR: 0.4
Slash/power: .252/.364/.351 with 6 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 5 SB and 22 walks
Age: 30
Other positions played: RF, LF

Jankowski has also played for the Padres and Reds in his career.

Billy Hamilton
Chicago White Sox
2021 bWAR: 0.4
Slash/power: .220/.242/.378 with 8 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 9 SB and 4 walks
Age: 31
Other positions played: LF, RF

Hamilton has stolen more than 50 bases four times during his career.

Delino DeShields, Jr.
Cincinnati Reds
2021 bWAR: 0.2
Slash/power: .255/.375/.426 with 5 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs and 9 walks
Age: 29
Other positions played: LF

DeShields stole 29 bases for the Rangers in 2017.

Jake Marisnick
San Diego Padres
2021 bWAR: 0.2
Slash/power: .216/.286/.375 with 7 2B, 5 HR, 24 RBIs and 11 walks
Age: 31
Other positions played: LF, RF

Marisnick hit 16 homers for the Astros in 2017.

Ian Desmond
Colorado Rockies
2021 bWAR: 0.0
Slash/power: Did not play in 2021
Age: 36

Desmond hit .295 with 22 homers for the Nationals back in 2012.

Ender Inciarte
Cincinnati Reds
2021 bWAR: -0.1
Slash/power: .215/.276/.316 with 2 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBIs and 7 walks
Age: 31
Other positions played: LF

Long considered one of the best defensive center fielders, Enciarte hit .304 with 11 homers for the Braves in 2017.

Juan Lagares
2021 bWAR: -0.3
Slash/power: .236/.266/.372 with 20 2B, 6 HR, 38 RBIs and 12 walks
Age: 33
Other positions played: RF, LF

Cameron Maybin
New York Mets
2021 bWAR: -0.3
Slash/power: .036/.182/.036 in 28 AB
Age: 34
Other positions played: LF, RF

Maybin hit .285 with 11 homers as recently as 2019.

Albert Almora, Jr.
New York Mets
2021 bWAR: -0.8
Slash/power: .115/.148/.173 in 52 at-bats with three doubles and two walks
Age: 27
Other positions played: LF, RF

Almora hit .298 with eight homers for the Cubs in 2017.

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