Free Agent Market For First Basemen

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.

Bounceback Candidates

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.

Potential Regulars

Russell Branyan, Ty WiggintonJorge 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.

Non-Tender Candidates

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.

Summary

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


22 Responses to Free Agent Market For First Basemen Leave a Reply

  1. I’m willing to bet Huff and Konerko resign with their current teams. I’d like to see Dunn resign with Washington as well.

  2. I hope the Giants resign Huff. He didn’t just do an amazing job at the plate, he also brought a lot of life and energy to the clubhouse. Him and Burrell really rejuvenized this team. They both looked like little kids on a Christmas day every time the Giants scored. Plus he gives the best after game interviews.

  3. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    I see both Konerko and Huff resigning. Dunn will be interesting. I could see the Yankees jumping in, but otherwise I see the Cubs pushing hard for him. I can see Berkman as a DH, possibly for Oakland or the White Sox. I have a hard time finding a match for D. Lee, so I’ll say he stays with Atlanta (though I would rather see them put Chipper at 1b). I think Wigginton is a great match with Colorado, backing up Helton and bouncing around their infield based on match ups. I could see LaRoche going to the Nationals once they lose out on Dunn. I see value in Branyan, but few openings for his talents. Maybe White Sox, maybe Tampa as a DH. But I think he’ll ultimately sign with the Mariners again.

    I’m not sure of what to make of the Fielder situation. My gut says that the Brewers wait too long to deal him and get only a mediocre return at the trade deadline.

    • Red_Line_9 5 years ago

      I believe the White Sox attempted to acquire Berkman before the deadline and he refused the trade. Whether this was because he didn’t feel the Sox would be serious contenders..(I believe they were in 1st at that point)..or he just didn’t want to play on the south side..or for whatever reason….it might indicate his lack of desire to sign with them as a free agent.

    • bbxxj 5 years ago

      I’m about 99.5% sure neither Lee or Chipper will play first base for the Braves in 2011. Freeman will start there out of spring training. Chipper is not moving to first as I think he would rather retire.

    • Neither Lee nor Chipper will be at 1B for the Braves next year. Wren’s already said that Freeman is our starter next year.

  4. alxn 5 years ago

    I could see the Braves re-signing Glaus as a fill-in for Freeman against tough lefties. It seems that he is okay with a bench role.

  5. rbeezy 5 years ago

    I have a feeling the Tigers are going to be looking for a fielder reunion , Prince loves the city and the tigers are looking for a lefty power bat. He is also a Scott Boras client which is a friend of Ilitch and has done may deals. Cabrera & Fielder would be fun to watch.

  6. Glaus should go fishing for a DH role somewhere. He can still hit, but playing in the field wears his legs down too much.

  7. thegrayrace 5 years ago

    Sure hope the Dodger front office realizes the need to upgrade at 1B. I had high hopes for James Loney, but his OPS has declined for 3 straight years… he’s not the answer.

    I’m sure with the divorce Dunn and Konerko would be dreaming… but I certainly wouldn’t mind Pena, Huff, LaRoche, Branyan, or even Lee or Overbay over Loney.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      It’s too bad. Dodgers may end selling short on their players like Kemp, Martin and Loney.

      I wouldn’t mind getting either Kemp or Martin depending on the price.

      • thegrayrace 5 years ago

        Problem with Martin and Loney is that the salaries they’re going to receive through arbitration may be greater than their actual market value. There is no easy decision in that case… I’d try to trade them, but I’d non-tender them if there aren’t any trade possibilities.

        Kemp is under contract so it isn’t an issue, but he’s still productive even if he is underachieving. I wouldn’t like to see him (or Ethier or Billingsley) moved. Broxton I’d move in the right deal, though. I was arguing to move him at the trade deadline before his second half collapse.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      It’s too bad. Dodgers may end selling short on their players like Kemp, Martin and Loney.

      I wouldn’t mind getting either Kemp or Martin depending on the price.

  8. blackandorangepride 5 years ago

    I expect to see Huff back in SF next year and I’m hoping it could happen but it would be nice to see Dunn in a Giants uniform as well. The Giants were trying to get him at the deadline, don’t be surprised to see them involved in free agency as well.

  9. I’d love to see the Cubs sign Carlos Pena. They could probably get him cheap for next year and a change to the NL Central would be helpful. Plus, he would provide some entertainment for a team that is not going to be any good next year.

  10. Huff is too inconsistent year to year to count on, I’d sign him to a one year contract to keep him motivated I guess unless there are other, more obvious reasons why he tends to have good years separated by mediocre years. I’d say a fair price for Konerko would be in the neighborhood of 2/$24-$26. He had a great year but he’s old by baseball player standards, the wall he’s about to hit is approaching fast. I don’t see any reason why Dunn shouldn’t get 4/$60 though that’s a steep price for someone who’s not valuable on defense or on the bases. He’s going to need a team motivated for a left-handed power hitter (Cubs) to get that price, which he probably will. I’m guessing Tim is right, Pena may very well take a one year contract (a la Andrian Beltre) and rebuild his value. Maybe a move to a hitters park in the NL is what he needs. Kotchman played so poorly this year he may never be looked at as starter material again. Branyan is probably never going to get a long(er) term deal despite his power because of the limitations in his game and his bad back, too bad. LaRoche needs to tell his agent to be aggressive this offseason because last offseason was regarded as a failure for him. He’s in danger of never getting a long(er) term deal either unless he gets one in the next year or two. I could see DLee taking a one year deal to rebuild value similar to Pena though I doubt he’s looking to play too much longer if this year is an indication that he’s really hitting the wall. If he struggles next year as well I wouldn’t be surprised to see him walk away.

  11. Huff is too inconsistent year to year to count on, I’d sign him to a one year contract to keep him motivated I guess unless there are other, more obvious reasons why he tends to have good years separated by mediocre years. I’d say a fair price for Konerko would be in the neighborhood of 2/$24-$26. He had a great year but he’s old by baseball player standards, the wall he’s about to hit is approaching fast. I don’t see any reason why Dunn shouldn’t get 4/$60 though that’s a steep price for someone who’s not valuable on defense or on the bases. He’s going to need a team motivated for a left-handed power hitter (Cubs) to get that price, which he probably will. I’m guessing Tim is right, Pena may very well take a one year contract (a la Andrian Beltre) and rebuild his value. Maybe a move to a hitters park in the NL is what he needs. Kotchman played so poorly this year he may never be looked at as starter material again. Branyan is probably never going to get a long(er) term deal despite his power because of the limitations in his game and his bad back, too bad. LaRoche needs to tell his agent to be aggressive this offseason because last offseason was regarded as a failure for him. He’s in danger of never getting a long(er) term deal either unless he gets one in the next year or two. I could see DLee taking a one year deal to rebuild value similar to Pena though I doubt he’s looking to play too much longer if this year is an indication that he’s really hitting the wall. If he struggles next year as well I wouldn’t be surprised to see him walk away.

  12. missyae 5 years ago

    Victor will likely play 1b for the Sox most the season with someone like Napoli or Ianetta catching. I know what Victor wants but I think he can be sold on how much better he could hit while playing at first. Of course Youk moves to third. I would love to see them come up with A Gonz but I think that ship has sailed for us. Beltre will likely go west and we will fall short on Crawford and have to sign Werth. It’s starting to become a regular thing that we get leftovers and don’t try to really take on the Yanks. Their ownership values titles more than ours does. Dont give me Lackey, everyone and their brother knew to stay away from that and Theo passed it off as a huge signing, it wasnt.

  13. Antonio Nicarelli 5 years ago

    After the Padres fell just short this year, they need to get ML ready players, or even proven players, in exchange for AGon. I’d like to see the WSox give Quentin and Torres, and maybe another minor leaguer for him. Pads get their outfield bat, and Sox could move Konerko to DH,

    • crashcameron 5 years ago

      at this point, Quentin is looking like a one-year wonder
      average defensively and flip a coin on whether he regains his stroke, period, let alone at a cavern like Petco
      Huge risk for San Diego

  14. qudjy1 5 years ago

    I wouldnt mind seeing Berkman in AZ – if he feels he can be healthy…

Leave a Reply