The Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, Indians, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Cardinals, and Dodgers could be in the market for first base help this offseason. Despite internal options at the position, the Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Marlins, and Nationals can't escape speculation either. It's a good time to be a free agent first baseman, as power pays and plenty of teams are looking even if the Yankees and Red Sox sit this one out.
Starting First Basemen Available In Free Agency
As many as six qualified starting first basemen are eligible for free agency this winter. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are the best offensive free agent tandem in many years, and they'll sign contracts well over $100MM. The terms will be a minimum of five years. The many teams that cannot afford to bid at that level can still look at Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, and Derrek Lee. Cuddyer is undoubtedly a starter, though it's possible his preference will be right field. I think he'll find a three-year deal. Pena has an outside shot at two years, but his low batting averages may limit him to one. Kotchman needs to prove 2011 wasn't a fluke, while Lee has to get past memories of his ugly Baltimore stint if he decides to play in 2012.
Thinking Outside The Box
The Padres' signing of Brad Hawpe as a first baseman last winter didn't work out, but teams may still look beyond the six players listed above. While we won't be seeing David Ortiz putting on a glove regularly, it's less of a stretch to think Josh Willingham, Raul Ibanez, or Ryan Doumit could spend significant time at first base in 2012. Willingham is a lock for a two-year deal, with a ceiling of three.
Eric Hinske, Lyle Overbay, Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Mark DeRosa, Greg Dobbs, Carlos Guillen, Conor Jackson, Juan Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Jason Giambi are candidates for big league deals that could involve time at first base.
The Dodgers' James Loney and the Athletics' Daric Barton are candidates to join the free agent frenzy as non-tenders. They're both more likely to be tendered than not at this point though. Both could become trade bait. Luke Scott is another name to watch when the December 12th deadline nears.
Other Trade Candidates
The Reds appear to have no interest in trading Joey Votto. It's easier to picture Adam Lind, Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche on the market, depending on how their teams' offseasons play out. The Angels could have a surplus between Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, but only if Morales comes on strong after missing all of 2011. The Yankees could potentially consider Nick Swisher a trade chip, once they pick up his option.