Trade Market For First Basemen

On Tuesday we analyzed the free agent market for first basemen, noting plenty of openings and a large group of players who will be fighting for regular playing time.  Let's see what the trade market adds to the equation.

The Big Names

The Winter Meetings are coming up in a couple of months, and trade talk could be dominated by Prince Fielder rumors.  77.8% of MLBTR readers expect the big man to be traded this offseason, according to a recent site poll.  Fielder, 27 in May, had an off-year in terms of his 32 home runs and .471 SLG yet led MLB with 114 walks and posted a stellar .401 OBP.  Fielder, a Scott Boras client, reportedly rejected an extension offer from the Brewers in the five-year, $100MM range.  He's arbitration eligible this winter and could earn around $15MM in 2011 before hitting free agency.  The White Sox and Rangers were reported July suitors for Fielder; the Brewers figure to seek pitching.

A year ago Adrian Gonzalez was considered a strong trade candidate.  I think the Padres' surprising run this year takes him off the market this winter, but it'd be silly not to listen.  At $6.2MM for 2011, Gonzalez would be a superior trade target to Fielder.

Carlos Lee is more of a big contract than a big name – he's owed $37MM over the next two seasons.  Lee spent most of his time in left field but picked up 20 games at first base toward the end of the season.  He slumped to .246/.291/.417 this year and could only be dealt for a similarly bad contract.

Non-Tender Candidates

James Loney, Casey Kotchman, and Dan Johnson are our speculative first base non-tender candidates.  Loney has enough promise that a trade is much more likely than a non-tender.  Kotchman, on the other hand, is certain to be cut loose.  As for the Rays' Johnson?  He would not be expensive to retain through arbitration, having picked up only 140 big league plate appearances this year.  He is 31 years old, though, and the Rays could non-tender him in December for the flexibility.  Johnson's appeal lies in his destruction of Triple-A pitching this year, though there's no particular reason for the Rays to move him.

Projects/Platoon Bats

Four other first basemen who could draw trade interest: Travis IshikawaChris Davis, Garrett Jones, and Jeff Clement.  Ishikawa's future with the Giants may depend on whether they re-sign Aubrey Huff or another free agent.  The 27-year-old Ishikawa has a career line of .265/.327/.400 in 665 plate appearances, with problems against southpaws in a scant 67 PAs.  Davis had a shot to take over as the Rangers' regular first baseman this year, but his minor league success has not carried over.  He too has struggled against lefties and must await his team's offseason decisions.  Clouding the picture for Davis is Mitch Moreland's success this year.

The Pirates may have given up on regular playing time for Jones and Clement.  Jones had a full 654 plate appearances to prove himself, and he did hit 21 home runs, but his .247/.306/.414 line was subpar.  Like Ishikawa and Davis, lefties give him trouble.

Reds prospect Yonder Alonso would not be labeled a project at this point, but we'll put him in this group.  24 in April, Alonso was drafted 7th overall in 2008.  He hit .296/.355/.470 in 445 Triple-A plate appearances this year, and is blocked by Joey Votto.  Alonso has increased his versatility by playing 30 minor league games in left field, but he still may be dealt to fill a need.

Summary

We mentioned in the free agent post that 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 this winter.  The trade market adds two serious names in Fielder and perhaps Loney, plus a host of players who would be cheap to acquire and will have to earn their playing time.


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82 Comments on "Trade Market For First Basemen"


Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Everyone seems to think that James Loney is a bad player, well he’s not and once he finds a place to play where no one is constantly talking about his power isn’t there, he will suceed, and he has already succeeded in the bigs. Yes, he doesn’t have much power, but he is a very, very good player and would be a great fit for so so so so so many teams and if he does get non-tendered, it’s going to be extremely exciting to find out where he goes!

start_wearing_purple
4 years 10 months ago

If Loney was a middle infielder then no one would question his numbers. But really first is the position where you have your guy with the obscenely high OPS.

BlueCatuli
4 years 10 months ago

I personally think the Cubs would be smart to after Loney or Alanso instead of Dunn. Cheaper younger and it frees up money to go after a top tier pitcher either this year (Cliff Lee) or next year (who is available next offseason)?

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

What about Loney’s career .339 wOBA and -0.9 UZR/150 make him so good? I don’t understand your love for him or defense of him. He had a great 2007, but that’s a 96 game sample size and in three years he’s never re-created it.

If he’s really underperforming because “people talk about his power too much,” and put pressure on him, then he doesn’t have the mental capacity to be a Major Leaguer in the first place.

Loney’s tallied 6.5 wins over his entire career… almost four full seasons’ worth of games. There were 12 first baseman (13 if you count Morneau’s absolutely incredible half-season) who totaled half that number or more this season ALONE.

Loney may have the upside to be a good player, but he’s never shown it since his initial MLB stint in 2007. He’s put up three years of mediocrity, and that’s enough to concretely say that he’s NOT a very good player. At least not yet. There’s no reason for the Dodgers to bet $5M on him miraculously putting it all together in 2011.

4 years 10 months ago

You shouldn’t be using UZR/150 to evaluate 1B defense in the first place

4 years 10 months ago

And yet every statistic available says the exact opposite thing.

jammin502
4 years 10 months ago

I think that the biggest thing that Loney has going against him is a guy named Jerry Sands. Sands is pounding on the big league door and he projects as a protypical type of first baseman. If I were calling the Dodgers, it would be about Sands, not Loney…

4 years 10 months ago

Loney at his best is Mark Grace. Or maybe Mientkiewicz without the D.
Okay to at-times-good but not a difference maker.

Fielder already had questions about conditioning and body type and now through Ken Macha’s parting shots, he has attitude questions. Milwaukee fans have known for some time that although he’s popular among teammates, he also carries a sense of entitlement and accomplishment well beyond his status.

JOldewurtel
4 years 10 months ago

‘Loney at his best is Mark Grace. Or maybe Mientkiewicz without the D. ‘

Which baseball player has the most hits in the 90s??? If you guessed Jeff Reboulet, please try again.

Mark Grace averaged 175 hits/year throughout the 90s, while Mientkiewicz had over 150 hits only once in his career.

Why does everyone like saying that a 1B who doesn’t hit a ton of home runs is ‘at best’ Mark Grace??? As if that’s some sort of bad thing to have a career .825 OPS???

4 years 10 months ago

Grace – No 100 rbi seasons, one 100 run season, season high of 17 HR. .303 career avg .400 career obp, .442 slg.

I wouldn’t say that putting that as Loney’s ceiling is inaccurate or a negative. Grace was a good player, just not a middle of the lineup guy.

Loney is .288/.348/.436 career with a down year factored in to a relatively small sample. He’s just slight step removed from Grace offensively but digressing.

start_wearing_purple
4 years 10 months ago

I’d love to see the Red Sox make a serious run at Fielder or Gonzalez. Fielder would probably be more of a replacement for Ortiz than a first baseman. And of course I’d love to see Gonzalez to man first in Fenway… but despite the recent rumblings that the Pads can’t keep him in the long run, my bet is Hoyer won’t deal him this offseason for anything less than an offer that would make the opposite GM squeal. They’ll probably re-evaluate at the trade deadline.

budman3
4 years 10 months ago

I think Dan Johsno will be the first baseman for the Rays next season. He should be able to give you the same production as they got from Pena this year(minus the defense) for 10 times less the money….about 1 million dollars. He could hit 30 Hr’s, knock in 90 runs and hit .200 just as well(although he should be a much better hitter over the course of playing fulltime for a season, IMO). The Rays may also bring in another RH firstbaseman to back-up/platoon as well because that’s the way Madden manages. Maybe an Xavier Nady or Ty Wiggington on the cheap who could also DH as RH bat in their line-up.

4 years 10 months ago

You should add Yonder Alonso to this post. He has no position in Cincinnati with Votto at first base.

RoyalBlue
4 years 10 months ago

You should also add Billy Butler to the mix as the Royals are always wanting to deal away their better players…They can give Kila Ka’aihue an entire season before Eric Hosmer joins the club in 2012

4 years 10 months ago

They’re not going to deal Butler just because they always want to deal away their best players. They’re going to deal Butler because they have Eric Hosmer and Clint Robinson right at his heels.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

Butler to Tampa would be good, the Rays have some pitching depth to trade.

RoyalBlue
4 years 10 months ago

How about Butler for Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings?

4 years 10 months ago

No chance

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

Either you’re vastly overrating Butler or you’re planning on sending Moustakas and Hosmer along too.

RoyalBlue
4 years 10 months ago

Billy Butler is 24 years old makes 470,000 and pounds the damn ball… Billy Bulter is underrated because of where he plays… put him on a team that has people that can get on base and he will have well over 100 RBI’s… he has a ton of upside if he isn’t tradded then more power to the Royals who will have one the best DH’s in baseball when Hosmer does joins the club…

Just know that if the Royals were to deal him to Tampa; then at least one of those two guys would have to be in the deal…

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

You’re treating Butler like he’s Albert Pujols. Yes he is very underrated and obviously very good if teams are interested with him. But he’s not going to pull either Hellickson or Jennings in a trade. I’m not sure that Pujols would get both players in a trade. If the Rays were going to offer one of those guys in a trade, they would go after bigger talent in the neighborhood of Fielder.. Wade Davis or Nieman plus a prospect or 2 is about as good as you can expect. And honestly, both of those guys are better than anything on the Royals outside of Greinke.

RoyalBlue
4 years 10 months ago

If the Royals trade away their top hitter they better be getting a more bats back in the system mainly OF, MI, and C depth… If it is a pitcher it better be a top prospect… the Royals are loaded with pitching prospects…Butler was the 14 pick overall and still has ton of upside and is CHEAP… I am sure he will at least demand one top prospect…

ze3
4 years 10 months ago

Will Fielder end up a DH in an AL team?

ze3
4 years 10 months ago

I have not seen this anywhere, but given the fact that the Angels only have about $38M committed to players salaries in 2012 (+arbitration raises), could they be the dark horse to land Fielder for that season? If I’m not mistaken, the plan was to make Kendry DH if the Angels re-signed Tex, so maybe something similar could happen. Both Fielder and K-Mo could split time between DH and 1B. I’m merely speculating.

In terms of this offseason, no way it happens, but if it were a mid-season trade (the Angels could move Abreu to make salary space) or if it was 2012….

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I wouldn’t have a problem giving Prince 20-25 million dollar contract if its a 3 year deal. Maybe for 4, maybe. But there is no way I go 5.

Considering the disappointment in Boston this season, I expect them to make a substantial offer for A. Gonzalez. They will go hard after him.

I think Loney is underrated, but would do better no a team that didn’t expect him to be a power hitter. Toronto can make up for his lack of power.

Dan Johnson will stay with Tampa in all likelihood. And Chris Davis would be a good trade target for a team like the Nationals or Orioles, he’s still “prospecty” enough that their is good upside in his power production.

And personally, I’d love to see Cincinnati trade Alonso to the Rays. I see a tremendous fail coming if they resign Pena.

4 years 10 months ago

What would the Rays trade though? The Reds have enough pitching depth with Chapman, Bailey, Leake, Cueto, Wood, Arroyo, and Volquez.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I’d be willing to get rid of Upton. I’m not sure that it would be fair as a 1 for 1 deal, other players might need to be involved. Maybe Brignac and another player. Or lower level prospects who won’t be ready for a couple years.

My point is more that the Rays need to bring in a cheaper, but higher upside player at 1b, rather than resign Pena. Maybe Kila or Butler from KC or Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins. Both of those teams could use the pitching depth that the Rays have.

4 years 10 months ago

Gaby Sanchez could be a great fill in. 27, good for another 4-5 years. Kila is a DH, no more, no less. Outstanding plate discipline would be perfect for the Rays, but he’s a DH. If you were to give away Upton, who else would be in the outfield other than Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce?

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

Hopefully pick up someone young and athletic in trade. I don’t have any thoughts on who exactly yet. But I think outfielders are a touch easier to find and Maddon has an ability to mix and match players based on match ups.

Off the top of my head, I’ve always liked Gutierrez in Seattle (similar to Upton but less of a head case). The Rays certainly have the talent to trade for Rasmus if they’re willing to move some of their depth. Maybe a Luke Scott type. Maybe a Willlingham. Cody Ross? Mind you, none of these guys are studs (other than Rasmus) , but they’d produce roughly the same as Upton.

johnsilver
4 years 10 months ago

Problem with Upton is that it’s getting to the point where he is going to have little value at all to even afford carrying his salary, much less trade value. Ever since he hurt his throwing shoulder half way through the 2008 season, it’s as if he is an entirely different player. He seems late with his swings, Avg has taken a tumble, OPS of course and OBP as well. He still has one of the better OF throwing arms in the game, so one has to wonder what the problem with him is, but the only things he has been able to maintain offensively is his running game and horrific strikeout totals.

Upton made 3M in 2010, figure 4m in 2011 with an OPS of .745 and OBP of .322, following his 2009 totals of .686 and .313. Those are not really numbers that make one in demand for a guy headed to arbitration eligibility for a 2nd time and with serious offensive problems.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I partially agree. Yes his stock is down, but he still has tremendous tools. He still has value, maybe not what it could have been. But someone will take him. And his salary still isn’t astronomical and he still has a couple years before free agency. The biggest knock is that he’s a bit of a head case. Some manager out there will think he can straighten him out.

johnsilver
4 years 10 months ago

Right on the problems playing out defense sometimes and running out groundballs also on occasion. Maddon has benched him several times for those mental lapses and it gets him “straight” it seems for 40-50 games before he falls back into that 2-3 game pattern and it has to be done again, but those mini team suspensions always seem to do the trick, or have done yet. That near walk on the inside the park HR he watched go to CF in tropicana Field this year was the worst lapse on his part yet though and finally brought national attention to what this guy does sometime when he does not feel like playing defense sometimes, also being broadcast all night long on MLB TV didn’t help his case either from what many inside of the TB area had already known was a routine problem of his.

The guy does have all the tools in the world like you posted and maybe that injury crashed his world some when he was headed to the top, he just needs to get his stuff together mentally a bit more it seems to me.

Hermie13
4 years 10 months ago

Couldn’t Luke Scott be added to this list too? More OF/DH but did play some 1B for the O’s recently and he could be moved by the O’s.

adammyst
4 years 10 months ago

Tim,
The Marlins may look to deal one of Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison, especially for pitching.

4 years 10 months ago

Gaby Sanchez. I doubt the Marlins have any plans to trade away their future core of Hanley, MS, and Morrison.

roberty
4 years 10 months ago

Fielder turned down 5 years/$100 million, but will any team actually offer that much on the open market? It looks like most of the teams who can afford to have a $20 million player already have one, or several.

4 years 10 months ago

He might get more as an open-market FA – I just don’t see a team offering the farm and then signing him to the big extension on top. A double hit.

That’s why I wonder if Boston doesn’t make sense with Dice-K and a prospect going the other way. A bit of salary relief for the Bosox dealing from a position of depth to the Brewers who’s three needs are pitching, pitching and pitching.

roberty
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t see the Brewers in the market for a pitcher like Daisuke, he is owed $20 million over the next two seasons and hasn’t performed particularly well. I would imagine they are looking for a good, young cheap starter with three or four years of team control left, and two high ceiling prospects.

To be honest, I think the Sox will either be swapping Daisuke for a similarly bad contract, or eating a lot of salary. I wouldn’t expect to get much in return.

Shawn from New Hampshire
4 years 10 months ago

The Bosox will go hard after Agon but in the long run a deal won’t happen. Jed Hoyer is The only way that they sox will trade for him is if certain players are off limits like Bard, Bucholz. The Sox would consider trading Ellsbury if they sign Crawford. My thinking is hold on to the prospect this year, sign a cheap first baseman like Derek Lee for 1 year with an option for a second year, slide Youk to third and wait to see if Pujols is still a fa for 2012. Even if he isnt, most likely AGon and Fielder will be. I think a cheaper trade for 2011 is to trade Dice-K, Ellsbury( if we sign Crawford) and another mid-level prospect(maybe 2 mids) to the Dodgers for Ethier and Russell Martin. Martin can and will rebound, Ethier at center. Martin can platoon with Salty

Jason_F
4 years 10 months ago

Several things wrong with this post. One, Matsuzaka has very little, if any, trade value and would be considered a salary dump, something the Dodgers would not be interested in. Two, Ellsbury’s value is at an all time low…and these are the two guys you think the Dodgers would consider swapping for their best offensive player? Three, Ethier is a horrible defender, and you propose to shift him over to CF?

4 years 10 months ago

The Braves won’t be looking for 1B help in the off season. They’ll promote Freddie Freeman as the everyday 1B, with Martin Prado as Plan B if Freeman goes the way of Scott Thorman, and a power bench bat (someone like Eric Hinske) as a Plan C.

4 years 10 months ago

Don’t even mention Thorman in the same sentence as Freeman. Thorman was hyped more than Freeman anyway.

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

What would it take to get Alonso?

I wouldn’t mind trading Stewart straight up for Alonso.

Indy1
4 years 10 months ago

….as in Zach Stewart?

moonraker45
4 years 10 months ago

Reds don’t need pitching.. They need outfielders, SS.. which the jays don’t have the depth in to give up… Unless its a deal involved Thames, which clearly isn’t enough or perhaps hechavarria ?

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

I wouldn’t mind trading Hechavarria straight up for Alonso but I doubt AA has any intention of trading him. They see him as the future shortstop.

4 years 10 months ago

That deal I could see happening just from a needs prospective for both teams and the time table of expected return.

slider32
4 years 10 months ago

I would trade Alonso,Frasier for Shields or Garza.

4 years 10 months ago

With Scott Rolen might be leaving, Todd Frazier looks like he’s gonna be the future 3B. The Reds could resign him to give Frazier more seasoning, but I wouldn’t trade him. The Reds don’t need pitching anyway. Looks like they would have to give up Upton, and Bartlett. The Rays already talked about makig Brignac their future SS, and Bartlett is getting too expensive anyway.

4 years 10 months ago

Rolen is signed for the next two years at 3B. Frazier, Valaika, or Fransisco will take over full time after that. I’m not sold on Upton and Bartlett. Neither one of them performed well enough for the Reds to be certain they are an upgrade over what they currently have. And if Bartlett is getting too expensive for the Rays then he is becoming too expensive for the Reds as well

4 years 10 months ago

Consider the fact that Jason Bartlett was injured this season. Other than that he had a great 2008-2009. B.J. Upton is also young, and very fast, and he could hit 18 HR to 20 playing 81 at Great American. And the Rays have a much lower payroll than the Reds. They can afford to take on salary, while some other contracts are coming off the books like Jim Edmonds which would make a little space.

4 years 10 months ago

The difference between the Reds and Rays opening day payrolls for 2010? $463,073.

We paid Edmonds 800K this year. We do have Harang coming off the books (11 mil). But with raises (4-5 mil for Phillips) and long term contracts for Votto, Bruce, and a couple pitchers the money coming off the books will be reinvested into locking up the young talent we currently have. Upton is going to make about 4 mil next year? Bartlett around 6 mil after arb raises? That’s adding payroll of about 10 mil for a headcase OF and a shortstop coming off injury while losing 2 top, inexpensive talents.

You don’t become successful as a small market club like the Reds by making trades of this sort. Maybe if we had a large market but we don’t.

slider32
4 years 10 months ago

I would trade Alonso,Frasier to Rays for Shields or Garza.

redsandyanksfan
4 years 10 months ago

I would like our return on that from the Reds point of view, But i would like to see if we could brignac to get our short stop of the future. Maybe Alonso,Frazier and Jordan Smith the hard throwing righty reliever that did to do bad for us.And maybe Logan Ondrusek all ML ready. what’da say?

bigziggy123
4 years 10 months ago

Tim, Lyle Overbay?

bigziggy123
4 years 10 months ago

Tim, Lyle Overbay?

4 years 10 months ago

Lyle Overbay is a free agent.

dudewheresmygrl
4 years 10 months ago

Wait you forgot to mention Brett Wallace up as a trade candidate, but I assume that is just a given at this point.

4 years 10 months ago

I would be content with 100 million of anything. Its such a big number that I won’t care about 100 million of what was offered.