As we continue to look at positional availability around the game, let’s check in at the first base position. Several clubs could conceivably stand to make an acquisition. For instance: In the NL Central, the Cardinals are likely without Matt Adams for the season, while the Pirates could look to upgrade over or find a strong platoon partner for Pedro Alvarez. The Nationals are still without Ryan Zimmerman and could probably stand to add a left-handed bat (though Clint Robinson has been solid). The Tigers could have a need Miguel Cabrera is out longer than expected. And the Angels are not only in need of some offensive firepower at the DH slot, but probably would not mind finding a bat capable of manning first to give Albert Pujols some time off of his feet.
Joey Votto (Reds), Carlos Santana (Indians), Adam Lind (Brewers), Ryan Howard (Phillies), Mike Napoli (Red Sox), Adam LaRoche (White Sox), Logan Morrison & Mark Trumbo (Mariners), Ike Davis (Athletics), Mitch Moreland (Rangers), Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Michael Morse (Marlins), Justin Morneau (Rockies)
- Votto is hitting well, though not as well as he has in the past, and plays for a Cincinnati team that profiles as a seller. But there has been little indication that the 31-year-old will be made available, let alone that other clubs will be interested in taking on the $199MM remaining on his massive extension from 2016 on.
- If there’s a premium, controllable option that could be pried loose, it may be Santana. He continues to reach base at a healthy clip while maintaining an excellent 16.9% walk rate, but his power is down (.367 slugging percentage, .153 ISO) and the BABIP gods have been unkind. Santana is under team control through 2017 — with a meager $6MM salary this year, a $8.25MM hit in 2016, and a $12MM option ($1.2MM buyout) for the final season of his deal — giving Cleveland little impetus to move him absent a big-time offer.
- Perhaps the most appealing short-term first baseman on this year’s market, Lind has put up a big .296/.378/.521 slash with 15 long balls in the season’s first half, though he has marked platoon splits and is best suited as a righty-masher. He’s owed only the remainder of a $7.5MM salary in 2015, and can be controlled with a $8MM club option ($500K buyout) next year.
- Howard has been completely baffled against lefties, but still puts up big power numbers against right-handed pitching (.241/.285/.469). At this stage, he probably only makes sense as a part-time player. To move him, Philly will need to eat a huge portion of the approximately $12.5MM he’s owed the rest of the way this year — to say nothing of the $35MM still left on his deal down the line (including a $10MM buyout for 2017). Howard also has full no-trade protection now that he’s achieved ten-and-five rights.
- The 33-year-old Napoli is playing on a $16MM salary this year and has hit at about 20% below league average. Boston is probably not in a position to move him as things stand, but he could profile as an August trade piece depending upon how things shake out.
- LaRoche has not thrived since signing a two-year, $25MM deal with the White Sox over the offseason, but is still maintaining league-average production and offers a steady glove at first. His strikeout rate has jumped to 28.9%, but he’s bounced back before and would hold appeal for teams in need of a sturdy all-around option at first.
- Both Morrison and Trumbo have hit beneath the league average line this year, though they’ve shown more in the past. Seattle has already performed quite a bit of roster juggling this year to maintain a contender, and seems fully committed to 2015, but could conceivably move either or both if it continues to fall short of expectations.
- The 28-year-old Davis has been steadily average at the plate, even with limited exposure to same-handed pitching. He’s owed just $3.8MM this year and can be kept through arbitration for 2016, so he could be a low-cost/low-risk option if the A’s decide to sell.
- Moreland profiled quite a bit like Davis coming into the year, but has raked in 2015 — in large part due to a lofty 21.2% HR/FB rate and a .324 BABIP that is a good bit higher than his career marks. Likewise, he’s cheap ($2.95MM salary) and has one more year of arb control. Texas has a whole host of left-handed power bats, including fellow first baseman Prince Fielder and top prospect Joey Gallo, so could entertain offers in a bid to sell high.
- The Pirates are firmly in contention, unlike the teams that control the players listed above. But Alvarez has dropped off somewhat at the plate (.236/.305/.436 with 12 home runs) and has remained a major drag in the field since moving over from the hot corner. There’s another year of team control left, but Alvarez will get a raise on his 2015 salary of $5.75MM. It’s plausible to imagine Pittsburgh adding one of the players noted elsewhere in this post while shipping Alvarez out to an AL club in need of a DH.
- Morse and Morneau are more or less unmovable at present, as both are in the midst of extended DL stays. Morse will return soon, but will need to show some improvement after an awful start to the year. Morneau, unfortunately, has much more serious health issues, as he is once again shelved with worrisome concussion issues.
- The question, as always, with Carter is whether he can make enough contact for his prodigious power to outweigh his proclivity for strikeouts. It’s been no different this year, but his overall productivity has taken a step back with dips in his in-zone contact, line-drive and hard-contact rates, and BABIP. Houston has other options in the first base/DH arena — Evan Gattis and Jon Singleton, in particular — and the 28-year-old is already earning $4.18MM as a Super Two.
- Butler has not bounced back as the A’s hoped when they surprisingly promised him $30MM over three years. It’s unclear whether Oakland or any of the other teams in the league have much appetite for a deal, but he can’t be ruled out as a trade piece.
- Swisher continues to decline at the plate, with both declining walk and power numbers, and has struggled with a knee issue. That makes him an unlikely deadline mover, but a rebound might let the Indians offload a small piece of his salary (about $7.5MM more this year, plus $15MM for 2016) in an August deal.
- Jones, 34, has a well-established track record of fairly solid production against right-handed pitching. It’s certainly possible that he could find himself the odd man out on a Yankees club that has multiple DH candidates and is always a threat to make an unexpected splash at the deadline.
- Though Rosario is young, powerful, and affordable ($2.8MM this year with two more seasons of arb control), much of his value has dissipated with a move away from the catching position. His numbers are obviously inflated by playing at Coors Field, but he could make sense for a team in search of affordable power (and/or sees some hope in eventually plugging him back behind the dish).
- Ruf, Moore, and Wallace have all shown some promise at times, but have not done much at the MLB level this season and are limited as marginal corner outfielders who are probably best suited at first base or DH. There’s not a lot of value here, of course, but it’s not difficult to imagine any of the three changing hands (or hitting the waiver wire) if they lose their roster spots or a need arises elsewhere.
Currently in the Minors
It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the massively disappointing Craig, who lost his 40-man spot earlier in the year. He’s continued to lack power during a 208-plate appearance run at Triple-A, but does own a generally productive .260/.375/.353 line. The Red Sox would surely consider a deal, if any other teams see enough upside to give value in return. Montero has hit like the top prospect he once was, but he’s been plying his trade at Triple-A all year (though he just earned a promotion). It’s unclear whether Seattle sees much of a future for him in the organization, but his value is held down by his well-documented off-field issues, to say nothing of a lack of big league production when he’s had the chance. Duvall, 26, has shown plenty of power in the minors, but is limited defensively and struggled in a brief first taste of the big leagues last year. The other players listed all have spent at least some time in the majors (excepting the 28-year-old Decker) and are hitting well at Triple-A, but profile as fill-in pieces at present.