With the likely departure of Washington Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn, the club has spoke about the possibility of acquiring a free agent to fill the huge void that the loss would create. Luckily for the Nationals, it is a strong year in free-agent first basemen which means that competition will be spread out and contracts will likely be deluded. The Nationals have already expressed interest in free-agent first baseman Carlos Pena, and there are other possible gems out there such as Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman and Derek Lee.
However, there are also a great deal of first basemen who will also likely be available this offseason via trade as Tim Dierks of MLB Trade Rumors points out. While these candidates may cost more to Washington, as is the nature of the trade market, the talent level is even higher than in the free agent pool.
Here are some of the available first basemen:
Prince Fielder: Prince looks to be the King of the trade market this winter as the 27-year-old slugger rejected a huge extension (5 years/$100 million) from the Brewers, letting the ownership know he was serious about getting out of Milwaukee. He will
likely be moved by his club around the time of the winter meetings to whichever team can offer the best pitching package in return.
Fielder is coming off a “down” season where the slugger hit .261/.401/.471 with 32 homers and earned 4.2 wins above replacement. Last season, at the age of 26, Fielder became one of the best hitters in baseball hitting .299/.412/.602 with 46 homers and 141 RBI, earning 6.9 wins above replacement.
While Fielder would certainly be a huge upgrade for the Nationals at the position, they would only gain control for one season and would have to likely trade either Jordan Zimmermann or Ross Detwiler, plus some change, just to get the deal done.
James Loney: Loney is a potential non-tender candidate as the Dodgers look to blow up the infrastructure they have in place after the departure of Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez. However, considering Loney’s age, 26, and disappointing output last year, the Dodgers may hold on to Loney due to the low cost and potential high trade reward.
Loney only hit .267/.329/.395 last season, but has averaged .288/.348/.436 throughout his career. While he is still young, some are holding on to the hope that the balanced hitter will develop more power with age and become a potential 25-30 home run a year talent.
Adrian Gonzalez: Gonzalez has a lot of value, especially when you consider he will be making less than seven million dollars next season. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Padres surprised everyone and competed this season, just barely missing out on the playoffs. That fact alone might cause the Padres to expend the effort to Keeep Gonzalez on the roster, but if not, the 28-year-old could be a huge catch for Washington.
Gonzalez has averaged .284/.368/507 throughout his career, hitting at least 30 homers and 99 RBI each of the past four seasons. Gonzalez also offers one of the better defensive gloves in the game. He has a career UZR of 5.6 at first base. Gonzalez would provide as much power as Dunn gave the Nationals but he would also hit for a better average while getting on base just as much.