Every year the MLB season goes through its offseason, pretty much like every other sport. The NBA Offseason is about what Super Teams will be formed, the NFL offseason tends to swirl around the new blood entering the league. But Major League Baseball’s offseason takes a while to get going. One of my favorite baseball terms is “Hot Stove.” You’ll hear a lot of baseball fans talking about “Hot Stove Season” and how it’s starting to heat up.
The term “Hot Stove” comes from the idea of the “Hot Stove League,” the offseason gathering of fans around a hot stove during the winter, getting warm and talking baseball. It doesn’t get any more Americana than that, y’all. Just sitting around a hot stove in the dead of winter, talking baseball. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Well, this year we’re starting early. We’re preheating things early on so that when this stove gets hot, we’re already cooking. Today, let’s start by looking at some of the most interesting First Base options on the Free Agent market.
C.J. Cron – Free Agent
The Detroit Tigers have been trying to figure it out these last few years. The 2020 season seemed to provide them with enough of a boost that we’re starting to see the pieces of their rebuild come together. We saw Matt Manning and Casey Mize make their debuts, and the Tigers now have a new skipper at the helm.
That being said it’s more than likely that they have a few more seasons in the basement before things start clicking. And a lot of that will come down to how prospects like Isaac Paredes do in a full season. This is exactly why the Tigers should consider bringing C.J. Cron back for the 2021 season.
Miguel Cabrera‘s days of playing first base are over, so they’ll need someone at first full-time. That was Cron in 2020 until he had to get season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his knee. And frankly, that should still be Cron in 2021. Bringing him back as insurance for Candelario and Paredes at the corners isn’t a bad idea, and it’s one that won’t break the bank.
Predicted Team: Detroit Tigers
Predicted Contract: 1 year, $3 Million Dollars.
Jake Lamb – Free Agent
Why is Jake Lamb on this list? Because Jake Lamb was once very good at hitting baseballs, and we saw glimpses of that in the latter half of the 2020 season. Can he turn things around? Yes, absolutely.
In my mind, where he ended things is where he should stay for the 2021 season. With Matt Chapman coming back from injury and Matt Olson holding down the fort at first, Jake Lamb offers an interesting third option as the backup for both. We’ve seen Oakland take in misfit free agents and turn them into found money. Perhaps Lamb is the next name to be added to that list.
Predicted Team: Oakland Athletics
Predicted Contract: 1 years, $2 Million Dollars.
Daniel Murphy – $6 Million Buyout from Colorado
Where does Daniel Murphy go now? After the Rockies shelled out $6 million dollars to get rid of him, his options seem kind of slim at the moment. He’s a former second baseman who now primarily plays first base and has seen better days. So where does he go?
Two options seem the best fit, with neither one being a super great option.
The Texas Rangers are in need of some veteran leadership as they head into the youth-first stage of their rebuild. Much like last year, when they brought in Todd Frazier, the Rangers could use a veteran like Murphy to play around the diamond while their future stars get their bearings.
Conversely, Kanas City offers that same kind of flexibility for Murphy, while still having a “2021 isn’t going to be the year we make a run for it, so who cares” kind of attitude.
Either one can make use of Murph in the short term. It’s as simple as that.
Predicted Team: Texas Rangers or Kansas City Royals
Predicted Contract: 1 years, $2 Million Dollars.
Carlos Santana – $500K Buyout from Cleveland
Cleveland had to buyout Santana. This was a no-brainer. For a team that is desperately trying to rebuild on the fly, keeping Santana’s contract wouldn’t make any sense. For the small one-time fee of $500,000 you can not pay him $17.5 million? Sounds like a deal to me.
So then where does Santana go? Personally, this seems like an absolute no-brainer as well. The Milwaukee Brewers need a first baseman. They’ve gone through Jesus Aguilar, Eric Thames, Justin Smoak, and even tried the Dan Vogelbach experience for a bit. But none of them held onto the job.
The thing to like about Santana is how often he gets on base, even leading the AL in walks in 2020. Having Santana in a lineup with bats like Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Keston Hiura can only add to their offensive barrage. And for a team that finished 11th in the NL in On-Base Percentage, they need the help.
Predicted Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Predicted Contract: 2 years, $22 Million Dollars.
Eric Thames – $1 Million Buyout from Washington
Eric Thames returned to the MLB as a big, loud bat in the Milwaukee lineup. Since then, Thames has more or less returned to his status of “offensive option, but not necessarily a starter.” However, for one team in the AL Central, he could be just the thing they’re looking for.
The Chicago White Sox rolled the dice on Edwin Encarnacion and, unfortunately, they came up snake eyes. After declining his 2021 option, the White Sox are now in need of a Designated Hitter. Enter Eric Thames.
Thames still might have some power left in that bat of his, and with his glove at first base not being too terrible, he could also double as a first base option, should 2020 AL MVP José Abreu need a day off. This is an easy call to make. Thames hits a need and is relatively low risk.
Predicted Team: Chicago White Sox
Predicted Contract: 1 years, $5 Million Dollars.
Ryan Zimmerman – Free Agent
If I were Ryan Zimmerman, I probably would have called it quits after the 2019 World Series. Go out on top, “Mission Accomplished,” what more could you want as the face of the franchise that just won their first World Series?
And now we’re in the muddy situation of that franchise face walking off into the sunset without any kind of farewell.
That’s totally fine, but it also feels empty. Which is why the Nationals should bring him back on a one-year deal.
Look, I know that seems like a complete waste of money. However, as someone who watched David Wright stay on the Mets roster for years, only to play four innings and walk off triumphant, I can tell you it’s completely worth it.
Ryan Zimmerman has spent his entire career with the Nationals. It feels only right that he finish it with them too.