By now, the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ first base problem has been well-documented. I know I’ve written a ton about it since the offseason started. Despite the obvious need for a platoon partner to pair with Gaby Sanchez, the Pirates have done little to address the issue. Andrew Lambo looks to be the heavy favorite to win the job alongside Sanchez, but there are a few other candidates who could unseat Lambo.
While the Pirates haven’t added a big name at first base, they have acquired a few under-the-radar names that could provide decent production from the left side. Chris McGuiness and Travis Ishikawa are two names that the Pirates acquired to add first base depth. The advantage goes to Lambo because he hit 32 home runs in the minor leagues last season.
The Bucs have been connected to almost every first baseman even remotely available this winter, including a few names that are still out there. Mitch Moreland, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak and Ike Davis have been the most popular names in Pirates rumors. However, they have also been linked to a much better option at times — Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Carp.
Carp, a lefty, is a first baseman and he can play a bit in the corner outfield positions. In 2013, Carp had by far the best season of his career, hitting .296/.362/.523 with a 139 wRC+. In 86 games, he hit nine home runs and drove in 43 runs for the Sox. Carp provides no value defensively, but his bat makes him an obvious upgrade for the Pirates.
In 2014, Carp will make $1.4 million. The 27-year-old slugger walked in 9.1 percent of his plate appearances, but he struck out in an alarming 27.6 percent of his trips to the plate. To pry him from the Red Sox, it will likely take a significant package from the Pirates, but the Bucs have an outstanding farm system.
The Pirates have one of the best farm systems in baseball; trading one or two prospects away won’t be a huge hit to the organization. For those of you claiming that a Carp trade will “mortgage the future,” just stop it. If you truly believe the Pirates’ system is as deep as the experts claim it is, then you should realize that some prospects are expendable in the right trade.