The Orioles have been in contact with Chris Carter’s representatives, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The O’s also had interest in Carter last offseason before the slugger signed with the Brewers.
Since being non-tendered by the Brewers last week, Carter has drawn interest from the Indians and Rockies, so it makes sense that another team in need of some first base/DH-type power has gotten in touch. As Heyman notes, Carter would essentially replace Mark Trumbo’s power bat, and at a fraction of Trumbo’s reported asking price. Pursuing Carter would also fit Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette’s recent strategy of not overpaying for power hitting; Baltimore has gotten quite a bit of pop from Nelson Cruz, Pedro Alvarez and Trumbo himself in recent years at relatively low costs.
Carter hit .222/.321/.499 in his lone season in Milwaukee, leading the NL in both homers (41) and strikeouts (206). Despite all of Carter’s power, his lack of a well-rounded hitting game and below-average fielding and baserunning contributed to a value of just 0.9 fWAR in 2016.
Despite these drawbacks, Baltimore is a good fit on paper for Carter’s game. He should provide as much home run power as ever in hitter-friendly Camden Yards, and his defensive shortcomings wouldn’t be an issue since thanks to Chris Davis’ presence, Carter would primarily be a designated hitter. Over his career, Carter has been a notably better hitter as a DH ( 130 wRC+ in 764 PA) than as a first baseman (105 wRC+ in 1575 PA), so a case could be made that he could still unlock some greater hitting potential if freed from a regular defensive assignment.
The Orioles’ lineup already tilts heavily to the right side, however, and the O’s may be more interested in seeing what they have in young DH candidate Trey Mancini. Baltimore could prefer to save its DH spot for Mancini and a rotation of veterans on rest days and instead direct its funds towards landing an everyday right fielder.