5 Possible First Base Upgrades For Pittsburgh Pirates In 2014
5 Possible Upgrades At First Base For Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates enter the offseason coming off of their first playoff appearance since 1992. Even though they didn’t win the World Series or even make it there, the 2013 season can be looked at as a complete success. Many people in Pittsburgh wondered if they would ever see a winning baseball team again until now.
I wrote a little piece on what the 2013 Pirates team meant to the city of Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, and you can find that here. The 2013 Pirates will be forever remembered as the team that changed baseball in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates had a great season in 2013, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have any problems in the upcoming offseason. There are two legitimate positions of concern for the team moving forward: right field and first base. Right field is much less of a concern. The Pirates have internal options available with Jose Tabata and Andrew Lambo, along with top prospect Gregory Polanco ready to take over in the second half of 2014.
First base, however, could be a serious issue in 2014 if the Pirates don’t figure out a way to acquire a good player to fill in for Garrett Jones and Justin Morneau. The Pirates will probably non-tender Jones and it seems unlikely that Morneau, a free agent, will return. The lone returning first baseman on the Bucs’ roster is Gaby Sanchez. The Pirates will need to find someone to play first; they are, after all, contenders now.
5. Mark Trumbo
The Pittsburgh Pirates could acquire Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo if they want to. It wouldn't be an ideal scenario, but it would be an upgrade nonetheless. Trumbo would bring a ton of power to the Pirates' lineup, but he will also strike out more than one would like. He seems to be very comparable to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez offensively.
4. James Loney
James Loney may or may not cost a draft pick to sign him. If the Tampa Bay Rays offer him a qualifying offer, the signing team will have to forfeit their first draft pick; if not, then the signing team keeps their pick. Loney is certainly not an ideal first baseman offensively as he doesn't hit for a lot of power, but he does have the ability to hit for average and get on base. He also offers plus defense. He is a very consistent hitter that likely won't cost as much as the top free agents in this year's class.
3. Kendrys Morales
Kendrys Morales topped my Pittsburgh Pirates wishlist at the 2013 MLB trade deadline, but they ended up trading for Justin Morneau. Morales is a switch-hitter with plus power and decent average. He is awful defensively, so he would probably fit best in the AL as a designated hitter. Even though the NL isn't the best fit for the switch-hitter, he would still be a significant upgrade over what the Bucs had in 2013.
2. Billy Butler
The Pittsburgh Pirates should strongly consider trading for Kansas City Royals DH Billy Butler. He will be a significant downgrade defensively -- somehow, there are in fact worse defensive players than Garrett Jones. In 2013, Butler hit .289/.374/.412 in 668 plate appearances, playing in all 162 games for the Royals.
1. Pedro Alvarez
I've seen several people bring up the idea of converting Pedro Alvarez from third base to first base. Alvarez has a body that might not be suitable for third base a few seasons from now. He is a big man -- not necessarily overweight, but definitely bulky. Despite his body type, Alvarez is very athletic, but his value as a pure power hitter may be best used at first base. Guys built like him to break down as they age.