The Brewers Should Wait To Acquire A First Baseman

Mike McGinnis

First base has turned into a massive question mark for the Brewers, but it's not a problem they need to run out and solve immediately.

With Corey Hart likely on the shelf until May and Mat Gamel out for the season, the Brewers have a big question mark on the projected Opening Day lineup at first base. The organization has reportedly expressed interest in recently DFA'd Mariner Mike Carp, but have publicly stated they're going to consider internal options before making a move.

Normally I'm the first one to jump on the waiver wire, start pointing out available talent and advocate for making a move, but in this case I think they may actually be making the right decision by waiting. Here's why:

There's still some time to think about this. We're 41 days away from Opening Day, so this need isn't exceptionally pressing. I'm not especially high on Alex Gonzalez or Bobby Crosby as a fill-in at first base, but a few weeks of spring training games may allow another breakout candidate to surface. If Taylor Green, Hunter Morris, Khris Davis or even Sean Halton have a hot spring then the Opening Day question may answer itself.

Mike Carp et al aren't the last first basemen that will become available. 30 MLB teams have one spot to fill at first base, and many of them have more than one candidate to do so. Between now and Opening Day they're going to have to pare down their rosters, meaning more talent will become freely or inexpensively available.

It's not a perfect parallel, but consider for a moment the case of Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell. The Astros claimed Maxwell off waivers from the Yankees right around Opening Day last year and got a full season of production from him, as he posted a .764 OPS and appeared in 124 games. Odds are you're not going to find a future MVP on the waiver wire, but you might find a solid stopgap. And that brings me to my third point...

It's important to remember that this is a short term problem. If Gamel and Hart were both out for the season, it'd change the tone of this conversation a bit and the Brewers would probably need to go looking for a stronger solution. But since Corey Hart is only out for a month or two at most, it's important that the Brewers not overpay for a player that's going to become redundant when he returns.

Take, for example, a free agent like Carlos Lee or Aubrey Huff. Either might be available on a one-year major league deal for something like $3-5 million, but there's no guarantee either will produce at Corey Hart's level or have any value to this team once Hart is back. That's a high price to pay for a six week investment. It could end up even worse if the Brewers decide to trade a prospect for a player instead.

So, while I know this isn't my usual M.O., I'm going to preach patience here and hope the Brewers take their time figuring this one out. In the meantime, I'm going to hope for someone like Morris, Davis or Green to play their way onto the roster and make it all a moot point.

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