Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Thinking first base

I doubt that the Twins view C.J. Cron as their 2019 first base solution. This may be wishful thinking, but I doubt it anyway -- first, because he's not the kind of hitter a analytically inclined operation should be coveting anyway, second because adding him while subtracting Robbie Grossman (nontendered), Joe Mauer (retired) and Logan Morrison (free agent) leaves them short an established bat to share first base and the DH slot.

Yes, they have Tyler Austin still, and yes, they have Brant Rooker in the farm system, but

  • Rooker needs more minor league time and
  • Between Cron, Miguel Sano and Austin, there is way too much right-handed swing-and-miss going on. Too much of the same set of tools-and-flaw for one lineup.
Morrison ended his 2018 season early for hip surgery. He had a disappointing season and there's no telling from the outside what his medicals look like, but he hits left-handed, and that's at least a different ingredient for the mix. I don't really expect the Twins to re-sign him, but I wouldn't rule it out.

So I expect the Twins will do something, either in trade or free agency, to acquire a left-handed (or switch-hitting) first baseman/DH. One of the names that came readily to mind as I pondered this while dealing with a weekend virus was Carlos Santana. The Phillies shipped the former Cleveland standout to Seattle on Monday, but he's probably still available, as the Mariners are selling pretty much any player of immediate value. 

I really like Santana. Even whne hitting a disappointing .229 in 2018, he still popped 24 homers and took 110 walks. I am surprised, looking at his career stats in the above link, that he's never hit for average. But he's never been a truly poor hitter, and he's become a good defensive first baseman after years of being a bad catcher and a truly misbegotten attempt to play third base.

There are two drawbacks to Santana: He turns 33 in April and he's got some $40 million coming over the next two seasons. 

Still, considering the obvious teardown in Seattle, his main purpose with the M's is as to be turned into something of future value. There is a deal to be made there.

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