Veteran first baseman Chris Carter hit the free agent market when the Yankees released him this past Monday, but it won’t be a long stay on the unemployment line. Carter is “likely” to sign with either the Athletics or Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag. It’s unclear whether Carter would net a major league contract or a minor league accord.
Although he belted a National League-high 41 home runs last year with Milwaukee, the Brewers cut ties with Carter over the winter in lieu of paying him a high salary in arbitration. Thanks to the flaws in his game, including difficulty making contact and an inability to contribute much defensively or on the base paths, Carter sat on the open market until February, when he landed with the Yankees for a $3.5MM guarantee. The 30-year-old was unable to fill the Yankees’ gaping hole at first base this season, though, as the power-patience combo he displayed with three teams from 2012-16 didn’t transfer to the Bronx.
After combining a .221/.318/.474 line with 147 home runs, a .253 ISO and an 11.8 percent walk rate over the previous half-decade, Carter batted just .201/.284/.370 with eight homers, a .168 ISO and a 9.6 percent walk mark in 208 plate appearances with the Yankees. He also posted the majors’ sixth-worst strikeout rate, 36.5 percent. As a result, the Yankees jettisoned Carter from their 40-man roster twice before cutting the cord for good.
Now, if Carter heads to Oakland, it would make for his second stint with the organization. The A’s acquired Carter (as well as Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson) from the Diamondbacks in a 2007 trade that saw right-hander Dan Haren head to Arizona. Carter stayed with the A’s through the 2012 season, after which they sent him to Houston in a deal for infielder Jed Lowrie. Given that the A’s already have a first baseman in Yonder Alonso and a designated hitter in Ryon Healy, there’s no clear fit for Carter at this time. However, with the A’s out of contention and Alonso in a contract year, he appears poised to end up in another uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. That could open up room for Carter, then.
The Rangers, meanwhile, are still in the American League wild-card hunt. They’ve hung in the race despite having gotten less-than-spectacular production at first and DH, though Joey Gallo has performed reasonably well. Mike Napoli is in the midst of a terrible season, on the other hand, but his numbers (.198/.275/.455, .257 ISO, 19 HRs in 288 PAs) have still bettered Carter’s. Plus, the two offer similar skill sets.