Checking In On The First Base Market

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.
  • IndiansMatt 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.
  • AthleticsBrandon 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.
  • NationalsAdam LaRoche figures to start at first unless the Nationals sign Fielder.
  • BrewersMat 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.
  • CubsBryan 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).


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37 Comments on "Checking In On The First Base Market"


formerdraftpick
3 years 6 months ago

Bryan LaHair is overdue.  I hope Theo does give him a shot.

joeybw
3 years 6 months ago

Can we just have Rizzo already? Wade Davis is a very nice guy, you’ll love him!

Rangersfan32
3 years 6 months ago

Rizzo for Davis? Don’t see that happening.

3 years 6 months ago

Not a chance they trade for Davis. Maybe for Lee.

Quacktastic_Duck
3 years 6 months ago

As a Braves fan, I’d hate to see the Nationals sign Prince b/c it makes that team that much more competitive and we’ve always struggled against them even when they are bad. However, if it happens, I’d like to see LaRoche traded to the Rays or Blue Jays. I’ve always thought that for his price, he always hits the correct amount of HRs and RBIs but as a plus defender which is extremely undervalued. I would hope that he doesn’t get shafted with a back-up role somewhere.

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

He can really play some good defense and can drop some rather long bombs.  How about that infield defense the Pirates had a few years ago… LaRoche, Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, that was pretty sick!  I heard them get some love a while back on XM radio with Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy just thought I’d mention it again…

Casor_Greener
3 years 6 months ago

worked out real well for them

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

He’d be a good fit with Tampa, maybe Texas too

Rangersfan32
3 years 6 months ago

I’d rather keep Moreland.

FillyPhan
3 years 6 months ago

Wonder if the Rays will resign Kotchman, always liked the guy and would hate to see him fall through the cracks.

diesel2410
3 years 6 months ago

I think they will. I also think they will trade Upton and Davis in a package around a top hitter. 

javywoz
3 years 6 months ago

Even if its his last year, would make very little sense for the Rays, who are in need of offense, to trade Upton.  They would only be strengthening one area (1B/DH) to weaken another (OF).  Plus outside of maybe Logan Morrison, I’m not sure of who would be available for trade that would require both.  That would be a huge overpay for Rizzo, Trumbo, etc…

formerdraftpick
3 years 6 months ago

I know there hasn’t been too much written on MLBTR about them as of late, but couldn’t Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Pat Burrell be considered options at 1b?  (If Posada is considered in this article, why not these guys.)  I understand that they haven’t played there previously, but I think they could make the transition.  

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

None of those guys could play 1st base, they are all OF’s with no infield experience other than Pat Burrell back at University of Miami in 1995-1996 but I think he is retiring.

formerdraftpick
3 years 6 months ago

Kind of like Trumbo playing 3b for the Angels this year, Skip Schumaker moving to 2b from the outfield, or the Neil Walker experiment from catcher to 2b a few years back?  I think the Blue Jays did it in 2010 with Adam Lind at 1b?  It seems like the game has changed over the years. You have to be flexible regardless of your previous experience at a position, otherwise you’ll end up at home, AAA, or as a benchwarmer.  I don’t know..I wouldn’t kick Vlad or Damon’s bat out of the lineup for Barton.              

Mike Mark Sopp
3 years 6 months ago

Indians should be waiting for the fall out from the Fielder/Pujols signings.  Whatever team signs Fielder (Washington?  Texas?  Seattle?) will have 1b they can’t use.  And the Angels fit well with the Indians for a potential deal.  And Pena or Lee wouldn’t be bad options on a one or two year contract either. 

mwilly33
3 years 6 months ago

Not sure what the new supercomputer at Minute Maid Park says about it yet, but I’d be very surprised if Carlos Lee isn’t the Astros 1B in 2012… He’s a surprisingly nimble defender, and unfortunately, he’s still their best hitter. If Wallace ever comes around, it’s not going to be until after Lee’s albatross of a contract expires.

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

I’ve been wondering what their plans are with Lee and Wallace!  Do you think they’ll sign some cheap free agent OF for depth and let those two play and back-up 1B?  They could sign a cheap OF that would probably play a lot out there, isn’t their OF pretty weak?

Biggio3000
3 years 6 months ago

I think I read somewhere that if Wallace is at first then JD Martinez would move to right then Lee would be back at left. If Lee plays first then you would see Martinez in left, and a combination of Schafer, Bourgeios, Bogusevic and Shuck in center and right field.

mwilly33
3 years 6 months ago

Prior to Lunhow, they signed virtually anyone with a pulse that had some sort of ML-AAAA experience to serve as the 4th OF. I think the idea is that Lee is going to hold down 1B unless/ until Wallace beats him out…or Lee’s contract is up (whichever happens first). As far as OF, Martinez is a guy that just flat out hits wherever he goes, but has bad knees. So, LF in MMP is probably ideal for him. He showed well in his brief stint last season and there’s hope he’ll be able to duplicate that. Bogusevic is “supposed” to be the RF going into the season… CF will likely be a combo of Bourgeouis and Schaffer. At least they’ll be interesting.

joeybw
3 years 6 months ago

Any Mets fans here? Quick question. How is Murphy’s D at 1B? Also, how real do you think his hitting was last year? Real deal or fluke? Olney sees Murphy and Tampa as a match and I’m wondering if I should want him or not.

Infield Fly
3 years 6 months ago

His bat is very real, and he is also quite capable at 1B (which he learned on the fly). His baseball instincts are…well…questionable at best, as is his baserunning. The real issue is that the guy is injury prone. However he is an offensive asset for as long as he can stay on the field.

joeybw
3 years 6 months ago

Who isn’t injury prone on the Mets? Seriously, you guys need to look into that.

I’ll add him to my personal list. Morrison was never going to happen and neither is Ike Davis so Trumbo and Rizzo top that wish list for 1B.

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

Murphy isn’t real good at defense anywhere and he is kind of an average hitter not the typical heavy hitter you’ll see at 1B.  He’d probably be one of the worst in the league based on offensive production.  But I think he is better than Dan Johnson, so I’m thinking it may be Zobrist over there…

passthehemlock
3 years 6 months ago

Murphy’s defense at first was above the major league average. Murphy would not be your prototypical HR hitting first baseman. He would be more in the line of Keith Hernandez or Mark Grace. Murphy batted .320 last year. More importantly, he batted .331 with RISP and .336 in clutch situations. He hits lefties as well as righties. He’s a tireless worker and he’s a good team player. He’s also inexpensive.
If the Mets trade him, we better get something really good in return because this guy can rake. 

MadmanTX
3 years 6 months ago

There was an article I read elsewhere yesterday that said the Rangers are trying to convert Mike Olt from 3B to 1B and try him out in the Spring. That may negate the need for a guy like Fielder, so that the Rangers can use the money to lock up Josh Hamilton.

joeybw
3 years 6 months ago

I am not the biggest Rangers fan seeing as I’m actually a Rays fan and they killed the dream 2 years in a row however, instead of giving the injury prone Hamilton a long term deal, I would extend the crazy talented core you guys have. Start with Holland, Napoli and Kinsler and see what funds you got left. That’s what I would do anyway.

Rangersfan32
3 years 6 months ago

Moreland and Olt could battle for 1st, then the money could go to Darvish, Hamilton, Napoli and Holland. Sounds like a huge win-win for me.

daveineg
3 years 6 months ago

If Gamel struggles, the Brewers could fall back on Taylor Green who actually put up better offensive numbers (.336/.413/.583) at AAA than Gamel last year.  Though Green’s only played a handful of games at 1B in the minors, and due primarily to injury hasn’t had the overall career minor league numbers, deep down I think the Brewers like his makeup better and he might just take that job.  The acquisition of ARAM, means Green as of now has no position. I expect a contest in ST.

Thizzie
3 years 6 months ago

Murphy isn’t real good at defense anywhere and he is kind of an average hitter not the typical heavy hitter you’ll see at 1B.  He’d probably be one of the worst in the league based on offensive production.  But I think he is better than Dan Johnson, so I’m thinking it may be Zobrist over there…

rockfordone
3 years 6 months ago

Ben – you forgot Adam very much Dunn – He is available – option 1 – 12 baseballs (don’t have to be new) option 2 – used rake — take our pick
If you pick both options you get Rios.

sonofsnake
3 years 6 months ago

Not worth the rake and balls.

mgsports
3 years 6 months ago

Pat Burrell did play 3B for Phillies in the Minors.
Nady can also play 1B so cam Blum and so on.

Jim McGrath
3 years 6 months ago

The Red Sox have a former Gold Glove 1 b playing out of position at 3 b that would make some team very happy–Kevin Youkillis. 
The Sox need a right handed hitting right fielder or a #3,4,or 5 starting pitcher contact Ben Cherington with suggestions. Keep in mind we have no money to spend—the Sox are poor because of Theo’s poor signings and Jihn Henry wants to prove to the world the Sox can stay under the Luxury Tax.

Infield Fly
3 years 6 months ago

You say that now…but just wait! :p

Coollet
3 years 6 months ago

Lind for sale! Lind for sale! You’re right, lets get rid of Lind for …?

Casor_Greener
3 years 6 months ago

LMAO, sad but true though they do have Bautista