5 Potential First Base Targets For Pittsburgh Pirates
Five Potential Upgrades At First Base For Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be in the market for some first base help via the trade route. The platoon that was at one point working out well hasn’t been as effective lately. If the Pirates wish to continue contending in the ultra-competitive National League Central, they must fix the major holes in their lineup at first base and right field.
The platoon of Garrett Jones versus right-handed pitching and Gaby Sanchez against southpaws started the season very well, but it just hasn’t been working recently. Jones is only useful if he is hitting for power, and he just hasn’t been doing much of that. His defense is atrocious and he strikes out a ton. Sanchez is a much more professional hitter, and I always feel much less pessimistic when he is in the batter's box instead of Jones.
Jones has a slash line of .253/.303/.421 in 2013. For a first baseman to only have eight home runs in 284 plate appearances is bad, but what is even worse is his 6.3 percent walk rate. Not only is he walking less than ever this season, but he is also striking out more than ever (24.3 percent).
Sanchez has a better slash line than Jones this season, but keep in mind that I base a lot of my opinions on on-base percentage. In 213 plate appearances, Sanchez is hitting .226/.340/.401 with a 14.1 percent walk rate and an 18.3 strikeout rate. Against lefties, Sanchez has really contributing to his part of the platoon with a .283/.411/.550 slash line. His walk rate of 17.6 is even higher than his 13.5 strikeout rate.
If you like trade rumors and speculation as much as I do, definitely read on to see who I have included in the list of players that the Pirates have been linked to or should look to acquire.
Justin Morneau is probably going to be the least likely name here. He's making a lot of money and the Minnesota Twins don't seem very eager to move him. His .268/.327/.400 slash line with seven home runs doesn't look very attractive, but he's a solid defensive first baseman and he is better than anything the Pirates currently have.
Chris Carter is a monster. He hits baseballs a very long way. Unfortunately for Carter, he strikes out 36.8 percent of the time, leading to a .229/.326/.469 slash line. He does have 18 home runs, and his 12.3 walk rate is very good. He is awful on defense, but Carter isn't playing center field where defense is very important. The only problem I have with adding Carter to the Pirates' lineup is that he would join Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte to add even more strikeouts to a lineup that strikes out way too much as it is.
Knowing how Pirates general manager Neal Huntington works, the Pirates will be linked to some big-name players, but they will ultimately settle on Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd as their big trade acquisitions. In 269 plate appearances, Duda is hitting for a .235/.353/.438 slash line with a very impressive 14.1 percent walk rate. He can play the corner outfield and first base.
Kendrys Morales is the most appealing option on this list, and the Pirates were linked to him on Twitter on Sunday afternoon when Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted that the Pirates have interest in him. He is on a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners worth $5.2 million. His .283/.340/.468 slash line is very impressive, as are his 14 home runs and 54 RBIs in a pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. He would be a defensive liability, but again, it's only first base.
Adam Dunn and Pedro Alvarez in the same lineup is scary for two reasons: so many home runs (the good reason) and so, so many strikeouts (the bad reason). His .212/.317/.474 slash line doesn't look impressive at first glance, but his on-base percentage is over 100 points higher than his batting average, and that impresses me. His 12.9 percent walk rate is much lower than his career average, but it is still very good. Regardless of the low batting average, adding 24 home runs and 60 RBIs to any lineup is a good thing.