On any baseball team, first base and designated hitter are two positions where consistent power is greatly desired.
For the Toronto Blue Jays, Adam Lind looks like he’s going to make that very difficult to achieve in 2013.
In 36 at-bats as a first baseman and a DH, he has eight hits and no home runs.
This season, Lind and fellow first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion have been swapping out between the two positions. While Encarnacion (with only two home runs) is probably going to be granted the kind of leniency a 40-home run hitter like he was last year deserves, Lind is setting himself up to be designated for assignment or told to have his bags packed.
Here are some options the Blue Jays can consider around the Major Leagues to replace Lind in the short term.
As a disclaimer, I’d like to point out that, as the team is struggling with pitching and the injury to Jose Reyes, anyone on the roster with trade value is probably not going anywhere. The Jays need all the help they can get right now. The Blue Jays are definitely not sellers this early in the season. Any expendable parts on the roster are going to do little on the trade block.
In addition, this early in the season, there aren’t many options out there. Anything the Blue Jays can pick up to replace Lind with for a quick fix at first base will be of little trade value. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos isn’t in a position to make a big gamble for a power hitter.
Rather, an exchange for one of these players listed below, excluding one (you’ll figure out which as you read on) should be of little consequence to the team’s roster. The biggest move that could be made by Anthopoulos in the next month will probably be for an interim shortstop until Reyes is back.
Here are some low-risk trade options that Anthopoulos might be interested in if he can’t fix the Lind problem in house.
Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates
Martin did well last year in the AL East, hitting 21 home runs for the New York Yankees.
At the moment, the three-time All-Star doing horrendously in the NL East for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 42 at-bats this season, he has one home run and two RBI.
Not every ballpark is perfect for every player, though. Martin might not feel as at home in his new division. If time doesn’t heal Martin, he could need a change of scenery. Consider the fact that Martin left the arguably the greatest franchise in all of sports for the abysmal Pirates. I’m sure there’s an electric charge that comes with playing in New York, and Russell no doubt benefited it.
Toronto hasn’t been much in comparison to the Bronx since the World Series victories of the early 1990s, and their recent boost in payroll hasn’t been able to lift them any higher in 2013, besides on paper.
But maybe a trade for Martin to play DH and placing Encarnacion at first base would be something more rewarding than their situation with Lind.
Martin not only plays catcher, but has experience at third base and even some non-Major League experience at shortstop (even though he's been the butt of jokes for his eagerness to have given shortstop a shot in the World Baseball Classic this year). Surely, he could figure out first base, too, if the Jays needed him to.
Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners
With a team as lacking in identity as the Seattle Mariners, you’ve got to figure that there’s at least something lying in that confused scrap heap of players for Anthopoulos to pick out.
Kendrys Morales hit 22 home runs for Anaheim last season, but right now he’s struggling as the Mariners’ designated hitter. In 58 at-bats, he has one home run. His trade value is lower than it was before the season started, and it’s entirely possible that the Mariners continue to spin the revolving door of players on their roster by dealing Morales for something expendable in Toronto. Most likely, Seattle will sit and wait for Morales to turn on again, but it could be a solution later in the season.
Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals
In St. Louis, backup first baseman Matt Adams is hitting consistently—when he gets a chance to hit, that is. He’s got 11 hits in 30 at bats, and critics around the league are keeping an eye on him to see if he will succeed.
Adams has a cheap enough contract ($490K) that the Cardinals don’t need to trade him at all. He’s got trade value right now, and it would take a little extra something from Toronto’s end to make him a Blue Jay.
If Anthopoulos is interested in giving the Blue Jays a consistently hitting first basemen in addition to Encarnacion at DH, then maybe the GM deals a pitcher or someone from the slightly clogged outfield (Anthony Gose probably isn't more than a year or two away from being Major League ready).
However, it’s really early in the season to give Adams that kind of praise, and it would be a serious gamble for Anthopoulos to take this type of risk so soon. No doubt, though, he’s well aware of Adams, being in charge of a roster that is in need of a permanent first-base option.
Uribe hasn’t played too many full seasons in recent years, but when he has, like he did three years ago in 2010, he’s hit a good amount of home runs. In 2010, he hit 24.
It being a few years since the 34-year-old had that successful season, and with Adrian Gonzalez sitting permanently ahead of him in the Dodgers’ depth chart, Uribe has very little trade value. There’s no reason why the Jays couldn’t try to trade for him and at least give him a shot while they wait for the season to move further along, allowing the trade block to fill up with better options.
Again, this is just an option for the Jays if they want to trade for an early Lind replacement. No one wants an over-the-hill Uribe to be the No. 1 option for the Jays at first base.