Deep Dive: Free agent first baseman and designated hitters

Sox upgrade: J.D. Martinez would look pretty good in a White Sox uniform. (@baseball_ref)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

José Abreu led the American League in RBIs in 2019, but what if the White Sox don’t re-sign him, for some strange reason? The White Sox designated hitters in 2019 were among the worst in the nearly 50 years of that position, so they are definitely in need of an upgrade. From an experience standpoint at the very least, Zack Collins may not be ready to fill that role.

Below is a list of free-agent first basemen ranked by bWAR, followed by a list of available designated hitters. Although there are exceptions like J.D. Martinez and Hunter Pence, the majority of DHs would actually play first base compared to other outfield or infield positions, due to their lack of defensive ability and/or versatility.

(age as of April 1, 2020)


First basemen

Anthony Rizzo
Chicago Cubs
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: 3.9
Stats: .293/.405/.520, 512 AB, 29 2B, 27 HR, 94 RBI, 5 SB, 71 BB, 86 K
Age: 30

The Cubs have a $14.5 million club option on Rizzo that could be bought out for $2 million. It’s unlikely that will happen.

Howie Kendrick
Washington Nationals
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.6
Stats: .344/.395/.572, 334 AB, 23 2B, 17 HR, 62 RBI, 2 SB, 27 BB, 49 K
Other positions played: Second base, Third base
Age: 36

José Abreu
Chicago White Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.4
Stats: .284/.330/.503, 634 AB, 38 2B, 33 HR, 123 RBI, 2 SB, 36 BB, 152 K
Age: 33

Eric Thames
Milwaukee Brewers
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 1.6
Stats: .247/.346/.505, 396 AB, 23 2B, 25 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, 51 BB, 140 K
Other positions played: Right field
Age: 33

The Brewers have a $7.5 million club option on Thames that can be bought out for $1 million — a very unlikely turn, it would seem.

David Freese
Los Angeles Dodgers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.4
Stats: .315/.403/.599, 162 AB, 13 2B, 11 HR, 29 RBI, 0 SB, 23 BB, 44 K
Other positions played: Third base
Age: 36

Mitch Moreland
Boston Red Sox
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: 1.3
Stats: .252/.328/.507, 298 AB, 17 2B, 19 HR, 58 RBI, 1 SB, 34 BB, 74 K
Age: 34

Neil Walker
Miami Marlins
B/T: S/R
2019 bWAR: 0.7
Stats: .261/.344/.395, 337 AB, 19 2B, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 42 BB, 77 K
Age: 34

Justin Smoak
Toronto Blue Jays
B/T: S/L
2019 bWAR: 0.6
Stats: .208/.342/.406, 414 AB, 16 2B, 22 HR, 61 RBI, 0 SB, 79 BB, 106 K
Age: 33

Matt Adams
Washington Nationals
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: 0.0
Stats: .226/.276/.465, 310 AB, 14 2B, 20 HR, 56 RBI, 20 BB, 115 K
Age: 31

Logan Morrison
Philadelphia Phillies
B/T: L/L
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .200/.263/.400, 35 AB, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 3 BB, 10 K
Age: 32

Logan Forsythe
Texas Rangers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .227/.325/.353, 317 AB, 17 2B, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, 44 BB, 100 K
Other positions played: Third base, Shortstop, Second base
Age: 33

Ryan Zimmerman
Washington Nationals
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.2
Stats: .257/.321/.415, 171 AB, 9 2B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, 17 BB, 39 K
Age: 35

The Nationals have an $18 million club option that can be bought out for $2 million.

Steve Pearce
Boston Red Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.6
Stats: .180/.245/.258, 89 AB, 4 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 7 BB, 31 K
Other positions played: Left field
Age: 36

Yonder Alonso
Colorado Rockies
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .199/.296/.346, 292 AB, 6 2B, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, 39 BB, 70 K
Age: 32

Sure, let’s have a reunion … what could go wrong?

Lucas Duda
Kansas City Royals
B/T: L/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .171/.252/.324, 105 AB, 4 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, 11 BB, 32 K
Age: 34

Mark Reynolds
Colorado Rockies
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -1.0
Stats: .170/.290/.311, 135 AB, 7 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB, 22 BB, 57 K
Age: 36


Designated hitters

Nelson Cruz
Minnesota Twins
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 4.3
Stats: .311/.392/.639, 454 AB, 26 2B, 41 HR, 108 RBI, 0 SB, 56 BB, 131 K
Age: 39

The Twins have a $12 million club option on Cruz that they are currently thanking their lucky stars they have, so don’t count on a $300,000 buyout.

J.D. Martinez
Boston Red Sox
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 3.3
Stats: .304/.383/.557, 575 AB, 33 2B, 36 HR, 105 RBI, 2 SB, 72 BB, 138 K
Positions played: Right field, Left field
Age: 32

Can opt out of remaining three years, $62.5 million remaining on contract, and if he does, Martinez becomes the top White Sox free agent target.

Edwin Encarnación
New York Yankees
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 2.7
Stats: .244/.344/.531, 418 AB, 18 2B, 34 HR, 86 RBI, 0 SB, 58 BB, 103 K
Positions played: First base
Age: 37

Hunter Pence
Texas Rangers
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: 1.7
Stats: .297/.358/.552, 286 AB, 17 2B, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 6 SB, 26 BB, 69 K
Positions played: Left field, Right field
Age: 36

Mark Trumbo
Baltimore Orioles
B/T: R/R
2019 bWAR: -0.3
Stats: .172/.226/.276, 29 AB, 3 2B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 2 BB, 5 K
Age: 34

Kendrys Morales
New York Yankees
B/T: S/R
2019 bWAR: -0.8
Stats: .194/.313/.253, 170 AB, 2 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, 26 BB, 26 K
Positions played: First base
Age: 36


2
Leave a Reply

Join in the Discussion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
katiesphil
Editor
Active Member
katiesphil
Offline

I keep seeing lots of press suggesting the Sox will sign Martinez. This makes me fear that lots of people expect Martinez to pumpkin into Adam Dunn.

But I’d be okay with him at DH, or even RF at this point. My biggest fear is, “Hey, Hunter Pence had a great year last year.”

Will
Guest
Will
Offline

Thames’ option was declined today. But, there is alot of bad baseball on that list. Outside of paying for Martinez, probably through his decline years, there isn’t much, I’d want to spend on.