Free Agent Market: First Basemen

The free agent market for first basemen is lacking a monster bat, but there are some interesting names.

  • Nick Johnson is one of the game's best at getting on base.  His .421 OBP this year in 496 plate appearances for the Nationals and Marlins ranks fourth in baseball.  Johnson, however, is equally well-known for his lengthy injury history.  He's the one true OBP threat of the group – next we have Adam LaRoche at .350 and Russell Branyan at .347.
  • Branyan is the top power source, with a .520 SLG in a career-high 505 plate appearances.  He's really scuffled since July though.  LaRoche is next with a .479 SLG for the Pirates, Red Sox, and Braves.  Hank Blalock has 471 innings at first base this year, so he's in the discussion with a .466  SLG.  The .278 OBP negates much of that.  In that small (inconclusive) defensive sample, Blalock rated well defensively according to UZR/150.
  • Carlos Delgado's work in 2008 and '09 stands with all of the above players, but he's missed most of this year due to hip surgery.  Aubrey Huff and Jason Giambi were effective in '08 but haven't impressed this year. 
  • You won't find any top defenders in this group, aside from Doug Mientkiewicz.  Guys like Chad Tracy, Ross Gload, and LaRoche won't kill you.
  • If you're looking for youth, Blalock, LaRoche, and Tracy are in the 29-30 range.
  • There are no Type A free agents here.  Huff, Delgado, Johnson, and Fernando Tatis project as Type Bs.
  • Troy Glaus might be a dark horse, minor league deal option.  But he has only played 38 innings at first base in his career.
  • Johnson, Branyan, and LaRoche should get decent, perhaps even multiyear contracts.  Delgado, Blalock, and Huff might also be able to snag starting jobs at first base or DH.

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