Prince Fielder news and rumors will likely dominate the coming month at MLBTR, but only one team can sign the powerful 27-year-old. A number of other clubs will look to add second-tier first basemen, so it’s time to look beyond the highest profile free agent to some alternatives at first base and their potential suitors.
As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, Casey Kotchman, Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena are still available. Luke Scott and Jorge Posada could be options at first, though they've spent most of their respective careers at other positions. A number of backup types also remain unsigned. First base prospect Anthony Rizzo’s name is frequently floated in trade rumors and the Angels have a surplus of players at the position. Here’s a look at some teams that could still have interest in first basemen not named Fielder:
- Rays – The Rays have had a clear need for a first baseman since Kotchman hit free agency after the season. They could hunt for bargains, but Kotchman's .306/.378/.422 line won't be easy to duplicate.
- Blue Jays – Adam Lind hasn't posted an on-base percentage above .300 since his breakout 2009 season. Edwin Encarnacion provides the Blue Jays with depth and a threat against left-handed pitching.
- Indians – Matt LaPorta and Carlos Santana figure to get most of the playing time at first base, but at some point the 26-year-old LaPorta may run out of chances (.238/.304/.397 line as a Major Leaguer).
- Mariners – Like LaPorta, Justin Smoak joined his team in a midseason trade for a dominant left-handed starter. Smoak has a similarly unimpressive .227/.316/.385 line as a Major Leaguer, but he showed signs of promise toward the beginning of the 2011 campaign.
- Rangers – The Rangers say Mitch Moreland is their first baseman, despite his struggles against left-handed pitching.
- Athletics – Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Kila Ka'aihue and Chris Carter are all options for the Athletics heading into 2012, but it would be an exaggeration to say they have an established first baseman.
- Nationals – Adam LaRoche figures to start at first unless the Nationals sign Fielder.
- Brewers – Mat Gamel hits minor league pitching (28 homers and a .310/.372/.540 line last year) and he may get his chance to stick in the big leagues in 2012.
- Cubs – Bryan LaHair posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. Theo Epstein sounds optimistic about the 29-year-old's ability to hit at the MLB level.
- Pirates – If the season opened today, Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones would likely be the Pirates' primary options at first.
- Astros – Like LaPorta and Smoak, Brett Wallace is a former top prospect who hasn't hit MLB pitching to this point in his career (.248/.323/.354 career line).