Posted by Matt Clapp | 11/02/2010 05:24:00 PM | Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Adrian Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, First Base, Free Agents
Adam Dunn is the main name we keep hearing in regards to the Cubs' search for a first baseman this offseason, and understandably so: You can mark him down for around 40 homers, 100 RBI, and a .900 OPS right now. Even though his defense is horrible, it would be nice to have that kind of reliability in the middle of the lineup. There's currently not a hitter in the Cubs lineup in which we know what we're getting from them heading into the season. Heck, we have no clue what we're going to get out of Aramis Ramirez at the plate anymore.
But, Dunn could be a bit too pricey(3-year, $40 million range likely), and even if the Cubs feel that they can afford him, they may think his defense is too bad to put on a team that already has a crappy defensive infield. So if not Dunn, then who would the Cubs look to acquire to play first base?
Well, one player that would make sense is Adam LaRoche, who now could be available after the Diamondbacks chose to decline their half of a $7.5 million mutual option with the first baseman. The Diamondbacks could offer LaRoche arbitration, since he would likely reject it and test the free agent waters, which would give the Diamonbacks a sandwich round draft pick when he signs with another team, because he's a Type-B free agent. Get all that?
LaRoche, who will be 31 all of next season, is coming off of a 2010 season where he batted .261, with 25 homers, 100 RBI, and had a .788 OPS. In 2009, he also hit 25 homers and had an .843 OPS between the Braves and Pirates. He has a career OPS of .827, and has had five 20+ homer seasons.
Additionally, although he committed 11 errors in 2010, he's been a solid defensive first baseman over his career. He's without question much better than Dunn is defensively at least, but then again you could say that about pretty much every other starting first baseman in baseball.
LaRoche will likely get a one-year deal in the five-seven million dollar range, so about half of what Dunn is expected to make annually. Therefore, signing LaRoche could give the Cubs the chance to fill other needs, like at second base(Orlando Hudson maybe?), something they may not be able to do if they gave Dunn 12+ million. And a one-year deal would be appealing to a Cubs team that is still trying to figure out their long-term answer at first base, which LaRoche is definitely not. Maybe they have somebody they feel in their farm system could be an option at the position in the future, and signing a player like LaRoche to a one-year deal would give them an extra year to figure that out.
It also keeps alive the chance that they could sign Adrian Gonzalez next offseason, as it's unlikely the Padres' superstar first baseman will sign an extension before then. That's my dream solution anyway. But it's the Cubs we're talking about, so who am I kidding?
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