According to the Washington Post
, the only legitimately good first baseman on the free agent market, Adam LaRoche, is in talks to re-sign with the Nationals
. In the 2013 Offseason Handbook
, I think the next best option we found was Carlos Lee, who slugged just .365 (and is 36 years old.) What’s more, there aren’t a lot of good options on the free agent market to move to first base. For instance, Kevin Youkilis is available at third base, but if he can play third base (and it looks like he can) he’ll be signed as a third baseman.
The last couple of years, the market has not been so thin. Last year, of course, was epically good, with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leading the charge. 2010 had Paul Konerko, but also Aubrey Huff, LaRoche, Carlos Pena and Lance Berkman. 2009 was thin, but 2008 had Mark Teixeira leading the class. It’s been years since we had a free agent first baseman sign for less than $6M, but that will almost certainly happen if LaRoche returns to the Nationals.
This presents a unique opportunity to the Twins, if they choose to embrace it.
In our 45-minute interview with Terry Ryan for the Offseason Handbook, he stated that 1B/OF Chris Parmelee will get every opportunity to play every day. While manager Ron Gardenhire says he’s satisfied with Parmelee’s defense in right field, the rest of the organization has shown no such endorsement. Indeed, in AAA-Rochester this year, he didn’t play a single game there
Moving incumbent Justin Morneau would not only make space for Parmelee, but free up $14 million to purchase starting pitching in a free agent market thick with it. Even if the Twins received nothing
in return, that’s enough money to sign any starter except Zach Greinke. Ask yourself, would you trade Morneau for Jake Peavy, Dan Haren, or Anibal Sanchez? If you would, it makes sense to trade away Morneau for nothing more than a bag of bricks.
Fortunately, for the Twins, that might not be necessary. There are not shortage of teams that struggled mightily at first base last year. SEVEN teams had an OPS lower less than 700 last year, and even the Rangers first basemen hit just .251/.301/.399. For a team struggling to fill major needs on a lower budget, the thin first base market is a godsend. If the Twins can find the will, there is almost certainly a way to bounce back quickly.