With the trade of Adam Lind the Brewers have turned to the free agent market to assess their options for filling first base. The options are not what I would describe as compelling. And it's entirely possible they give the full time job to Jason Rogers. But I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the idea of bringing someone from outside the organization to contribute in some role.
The Brewers are "casting a wide net" in their search for a first baseman as evidenced by this tweet from last week:
#Brewers are casting a wide net in 1B search: Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, Steve Pearce, Chris Carter, Daniel Nava among those on radar.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 10, 2015
I won't argue that each player is a great fit or a good bet to produce value. But each does have an argument to make for fitting on this rebuilding team. Today I'm going to take a look at Daniel Nava's case.
Daniel Nava began his career with the Red Sox in 2010. He's had a somewhat uneven career but probably be fair to say he's been mostly mediocre. Next season will be his age 33 season so it's probably unlikely we'll see a huge jump in production. But I think there's a way for the Brewers to get the best out of him.
He's technically a switch-hitter. But a quick look at his career splits will tell you he's much better as a left-handed hitter. That's not necessarily a bad thing. With Jason Rogers on the bench the two could form an excellent tandem. Here are Nava's stats vs RHP over the years:
|Season||Triple Slash Line||wRC+|
Can you see which one of those seasons is not like the others? I have no idea why he was so terrible in 2015. It's entirely possible the bottom has just dropped out and he's not ever going to do anything at the major league level again. But maybe he's not done. Maybe that really is just a statistical anomaly.
Isn't that just the type of bet the Brewers--or any rebuilding club--should be taking? I think so. Even if he's not the prototypical slugging first baseman he could still provide good offense as the left-handed part of a platoon there. And he could also serve at the teams 5th or 6th outfielder--depending on how many they choose to roster. That type of flexibility could make him an attractive trade option at the deadline mid-season.
He only made $1.8 million in 2015 so he would be a very cheap option. That's certainly attractive to a front office not looking to spend big. But it's also going to be attractive to any club looking to fill holes at the traded deadline.
I think Daniel Nava is a very interesting buy-low guy. He's not going to offer the potential to slug 30 home runs like a few of the others. But he's decent defensively at first base and left field. And protected from left-handed pitchers he could provide a lot of offense. I think he's one of the more well rounded options on the first base market.
Statistics and contract information courtesy of FanGraphs