Hot Stove 2010: Options for a 1B/3B

If the trade of Mike Lowell goes through, the Sox could stand to add a corner infielder. With Max Ramirez added to a slew of players to fill the C/1B/3B/DH roles, the Sox don’t NEED to make a move, yet they probably should. My logic goes like this: Ramirez is labeled as a catcher, but is he our catcher of the future? No. He’s poor defensively. Victor Martinez can catch maybe 60-70% of our games, but we need a good defensive guy to complement him. Do we see Ramirez as our future 1B or DH? Possibly, but at 5-11, 180 his ceiling might not be what we’re looking for. He looks like a trading chip to me.

Trading Lowell, who is still a pretty decent hitter, shows the Red Sox are committed to getting better on the defensive side of the diamond. A defensive efficiency rating of .679, 3rd worst in baseball last season, probably wasn’t helpful in our run. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

Free agents
Troy Glaus (.266/.365/.464, .369 wOBA, +18.8 wRAA), 1/10M?
Mark Derosa (.265/.342/.432, .347 wOBA, +8.3 wRAA), 2/16M?
Adrian Beltre (.266/.316/.415, .329 wOBA, -0.8 wRAA), 3/27M?
Garrett Atkins (.257/.325/.399, .326 wOBA, -2.4 wRAA), 1/2M?
Joe Crede (.242/.308/.422, .323 wOBA, -2.4 wRAA), 1/3M?

Trade bait
Dan Uggla (.247/.350/.460, .361 wOBA, +17.3 wRAA), $8M arb2
Mat Gamel (.257/.344/.435, .349 wOBA), minimum pre-arb2
Kevin Kouzmanoff (.260/.312/.425, .329 wOBA, -1.2 WRAA), $3-4M arb1

Glaus and Derosa can hit somewhat, but defense is not a strength for either of them; if you sign them, you might as well have kept Lowell. Beltre is a premier defender at third base, but woefully inconsistent on offense. He’s got decent power but things are trending the wrong way and he has never shown the patience to post a decent OBP; consequently, he’s just a league-average hitter. At third base, that’s costly. Of course, moving to Fenway would benefit him some, but Lowell is projected to be +11 runs, so Beltre would actually be an offensive downgrade. Would the Sox really commit $50M to this kind of player? Atkins is not a free agent yet, but he will be non-tendered in two more days. He is also in the no-hit, no-field category. A cheaper alternative to Beltre would be Crede, but he’s also got bad injury issues.

Uggla has been a 2B for the Marlins, but he’s athletic and his skillset might make him a decent fit at third. Mat Gamel is an intriguing option, but he’s unproven and he’d fit better at 1B. The Brewers would probably want Clay Buchholz back in any deal for him. And Kouzmanoff might make for a better option than either Beltre or Crede, given the cost. He’s actually a pretty decent fielder, and PETCO Stadium makes him look worse than he is as a hitter.

The Sox could also go out and acquire a 1B, moving Kevin Youkilis to third base. He would likely be a slightly plus defender there.

Free agents
Adam LaRoche (.271/.349/.474, .365 wOBA, +16.8 wRAA), 3/24M?
Carlos Delgado (.282/.369/.498, .385 wOBA, +16.1 wRAA), 1/10M?
Nick Johnson (.269/.405/.411, .373 wOBA, +15.9 wRAA), 3/21M?
Hank Blalock (.261/.315/.481, .351 wOBA, +6.8 wRAA), 1/7M?

Trade bait
Prince Fielder (.285/.395/.548, .414 wOBA, +50.8 wRAA), 1/10.5M arb2
Adrian Gonzalez (.279/.386/.519, .400 wOBA, +41.4 wRAA), 2/10.25M (NOT a misprint)
Miguel Cabrera (.303/.375/.522, .396 wOBA, +38.7 wRAA), 6/126M
James Loney (.288/.358/.430, .353 wOBA, +11.9 wRAA), minimum pre-arb3

Any of LaRoche (stability), Delgado (upside) or Johnson (OBP) would be a moderate improvement over Mike Lowell. Of the three, LaRoche is the least objectionable defensively, but none are strong with the glove. Blalock has power, but doesn’t look like his bat will be valuable for much longer, and he doesn’t play defense well, so I’d pass.

Any of these three big bats would be a great boost to the offense, and make signing Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in left a non-issue. Getting Max Ramirez as a trade chip is a shrewd move in gaining leverage on Scott Boras. Fielder is unlikely to be dealt, as is Gonzalez; but add enough incentive, and one of them might be obtainable. Cabrera might be more available, but paying a lot in prospects and then a lot in salary is not a good value. The Tigers are rebuilding anyway, and want him to anchor the offense going forward. Loney is acquirable, but not a huge upgrade over letting Casey Kotchman play.

Unless we can swing a deal for one of the big boys at first base, I’d sign a short-term guy at 1B like LaRoche or Delgado or consider trading for a stopgap 3B.


2 Responses to Hot Stove 2010: Options for a 1B/3B

  1. Pat says:

    Would you add your projections for Casey Kotchman?

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Sure. For comparison’s sake:
    Kotchman .274/.345/.413, .341 wOBA, +4.0 WRAA

    There’s a chance that with regular playing time, he could better that by a little bit.

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