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Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agent Rankings: First Baseman (2 of 2)

Yesterday we continued our series on upcoming free agents by looking at a couple of first baseman that are hitting the open market. Today we continue that in-depth look at first baseman that Miami may be interested in targeting. As we covered before, Logan Morrison is the presumed opening day starter at first base right now, but as we have seen the last day and a half, things can change quickly. Senior Editor Ehsan Kassim posted about a report that has surfaced regarding interest in Morrison on the trading block, but it is still very early in the off-season. Regardless of what happens, if history has taught us well, we may need a capable backup/starter if when LoMo gets hurt.

 

Mike Napoli:

Napoli, a former catcher, hits the open market this year after a World Series win. He posted some pretty solid numbers this year with a slash line of .259/.360/.482, all right around his career averages. He provides power from the right side of the plate, and has posted some decent defensive metrics at first base after making the full-time switch.

As a former catcher, an assumption could be made that he could occasionally spell a starting catcher for a day off here and there. That would be incorrect. He is suffering from a degenative condition in his hips that really will prevent him from playing any catcher at all.

Napoli’s walk rate and strikeout rate both increased this year. I believe that is a product of the Red Sox mantra of taking as many pitches as possible to both wear down opposing pitchers and increase mistakes on their part.

Napoli just turned 32 and figures to get a 2 to 3 year offer from potential teams. With his existing condition, you have to figure that it will be at a bit of a discount. He will probably entertain contracts in the 3 year 40 million dollar range, which will be out of the Marlins range for a first baseman that is not a pressing need right now.

Look for Napoli to resign with the Red Sox this offseason. If not the Sox, I would anticipate another American League team that he could occasionally DH with.

Likelihood of Becoming a Marlins: 1/10

 

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Youkilis:

Youkilis is an interesting prospect for the Marlins to take a look at. The corner infielder joined the evil empire this past year and submitted his worst statistical season in his career. Granted, it was only 28 games, but the aging all-star has certainly shown signs of wear and tear the last 3 years.

What Youkilis could provide is veteran depth, on a team like Miami that sorely needs it. While a below average fielder at third base, he can at least provide a backup to both of those positions, as well as giving a solid right-handed pinch-hitting player off the bench. His days of 20 home runs are likely behind him, but he could provide an OBP in the .330 range, which is much better than anything the Marlins had at third base last year and on par with Logan Morrison at first base.

Youkilis will likely be signing a discounted contract this year. That is due to his age and his injury history. It is never good to submit a contract year only playing in 28 games and his 12 million a year salary will certainly take a hit. I could see him signing a one year contract worth 6 million a year plus 2-3 million in playing incentives.

The question is, would Jeffrey Loria want to play a player that much money who would likely sit on the bench. I think he might if he was viewed as a short-term fill-in at third base. This move actually makes some sense.

Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 5/10

 

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

James Loney:

An interesting player entering free agency this year is first baseman James Loney. Loney, entrenched in the prime of his career at 29 years of age, played last year with the Tampa Bay Rays. The long-time Dodger has put up some solid numbers throughout his career, posting a .285/.340/.421 slash line. He hits left-handed pitching almost as well as right-handed, pretty unique for a left-handed hitter. He has also transformed himself into a solid defensive first baseman.

If you could point to one deficiency that Loney has, it is in the power department. Traditionally, first base is home to an immobile slugger who clubs home runs. That definitely isn’t Loney’s game. Loney has never hit 20 home runs in a season, but he is a high contact, gap to gap hitter (sounds like the type of player Miami is after).

Loney had another above average season this year and I would expect him to get a sizable increase in his contract offer this year. Look for Loney, who made 2 million dollars last year, to field offers in the 4 year 3o million dollar range. It also doesn’t look like the small market Rays are going to be able to make much of a play for him.

Loney isn’t a bench player, or a platoon player. He is a slightly above average, every day first baseman. If the Marlins were going to pursue him, it would likely mean the end of Morrison’s tenure with the fish. I think that Loney is the type of hitter that the Marlins are after but he might be a bit out of their price range.

Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 3/10

MLB Trade Rumors published an entire list of free agents at the first base position. This list also includes their ages:

Jeff Baker (33)
Yuniesky Betancourt (32)
Corey Hart (32)
Paul Konerko (38)
Casey Kotchman (31)
Brandon Laird (26)
James Loney (30)
Casey McGehee (31)
Kendrys Morales (30)
Justin Morneau (33)
Mike Napoli (32)
Lyle Overbay (37)
Carlos Pena (36)
Mark Reynolds (30)
Chad Tracy (34)
Ty Wigginton (36)
Kevin Youkilis (35)

What do you think of the free agent first baseman on the market. Do you see any potential fits for the Marlins? Anybody on the list that interests you? Let us know in the comment section below and stay tuned for second base free agents soon!

Tags: James Loney Kevin Youkilis Logan Morrison Miami Marlins Mike Napoli MLB

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