First base is a place for offense, and the free agent market offers plenty of options. The Orioles, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers, Braves, Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, and Giants could be seeking first base help in some capacity this winter. That's nearly half the teams in baseball, so we could see quite the first base shuffle.
Coming Off Big Years
Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and Aubrey Huff had well-timed walk years. Dunn and Konerko each approached 40 home runs, while Huff hit for power and drew 83 walks. As a Type A, Konerko could cost a new team a draft pick if he turns down an arbitration offer from the White Sox. Konerko's big year suggests a multiyear contract, though he will head into next season at 35. Unlike Dunn, he seems open to increased time at DH. Konerko seems willing to walk away from the game if he doesn't find an acceptable offer. Dunn and Huff are Type Bs. Dunn has been a model of consistency with his home run totals, though his walk rate took a dip this year. For some reason, the common refrain among writers is that four years and $60MM will get him signed. Memories of Huff's abysmal 2009 season could limit his offers.
Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee, and Nick Johnson had strong 2009 seasons but suffered injuries and/or decline in 2010. Berkman, 35 in February, still draws plenty of walks but had a power outage this year as he dealt with knee and ankle injuries. Johnson, 32, was limited to 98 plate appearances due to multiple wrist surgeries. Berkman and Johnson could DH next year. Lee, 35, dealt with side, hand, back, hamstring, thumb, and foot injuries this year. Pena, 33 in May, took a nosedive in 2010 but still drew 87 walks. The Boras client could sign a one-year deal in hopes of returning to his 40 home run days.
Russell Branyan, Ty Wigginton, Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady, and Lyle Overbay may view themselves as starters, but could find offers of regular playing time hard to come by. LaRoche should be OK coming off a 100 RBI season, though his OBP was just .320. Similarly, Branyan has power but struck out plenty and didn't get on base frequently.
Casey Kotchman will be cut by the Mariners after a rough year; he turns 28 in February. The Dodgers could trade or non-tender James Loney, who hit .267/.329/.395 but would get a raise on this year's $3.1MM salary. The Rays' Dan Johnson could be cut, though he had a huge year at Triple A and had his moments with the big club.
First base openings are widespread this offseason. Dunn, Konerko, Huff, and Pena should be in demand, while the others may have to scramble for work or head to the American League as part-time DHs. The trade market, covered here, should offer at least one heavy hitter in Prince Fielder.