This past week, the Rays signed Carlos Pena to a one year $7.5MM deal. With Pena now off the market, the Pirates list of possible first basemen is dwindling. As it stands now, the Bucs have handful of internal options, and a couple of free agent options.
Derrek Lee – Yeah, its unlikely. VERY, VERY unlikely. Lee has already expressed that he isn’t really interested in returning, and has said that he will retire if he doesn’t get the kind of money offers that he wants. But the Pirates shouldn’t give up on Lee just yet. By no means will DLee put up the type of numbers he did in 2011, but he could still be productive. He’ll be 36 on Opening Day, which is a concern. Still, Lee would probably be the best power hitter in the Bucs’ lineup.
Casey Kotchman – Kotchman has bounced around the league and has been with a few teams. While he is slightly above average defensively, his bat is a huge question mark. He had a great 2011 campaign, hitting .306, but hasn’t been very productive other than that. Kotchman probably wouldn’t cost too much, and would add some decent pop to the lineup.
Internally, the Bucs have 5 options that they could use at first base in some combination.
We won’t get in to the specific numbers that each of these guys has put up, but there are a few possibilities within them. The most likely possibility is that Jones and McGehee start Opening Day in some sort of righty/lefty platoon. A good idea in theory, but we saw how the Jones/Diaz RF platoon worked out last year. Another possibility is that Pedro switches to first base. The odds of this happening are slim to none, as Pedro is much more useful at third base, providing he hits well. Don’t count on El Toro being a first baseman. The other two options are Hague and Evans. Evans has had minimal major league experience, and did relatively well at the plate. Hague has had a pretty successful minor league career, and is intriguing. Whether he starts out in AAA or the majors will be determined in Spring Training.
So with Pena going to Tampa, it looks like the best option for the Pirates’ first base issue will have to be solved from within their system. Personally, it would be nice to see Evans and Hague get a chance. Couldn’t hurt right? As of now though, it looks like Jones and McGehee will be the co-firstbaggers. Can they put up the power numbers that the Pirates need from the corner positions? We’ll have to wait and see.