The Brewers traded Adam Lind to Seattle last week and opened up a hole at first base for 2016, and it's been reported that the club is looking at outside additions to fill that vacancy. Of the several names that the club has been linked to, none should be more familiar to Slingin' David Stearns than former Astro Chris Carter, who was non-tendered earlier this winter.
Carter was drafted in the 15th round in the 2005 MLB Draft and began his career in the White Sox organization. He was traded twice during the 2007 offseason and eventually wound up in Oakland, where made his major league debut in 2010. He spent parts of three seasons with the Athletics in a part time role before getting traded to the Astros before the 2013 season and establishing himself as an everyday player.
Carter is a quintessential example of a three true outcomes player, having either walked, struck out, or hit a home run in 50.4% of his 2,001 major league plate appearances. He's slugged 90 home runs during the last three seasons with Houston, but his batting average has always suffered thanks to his huge strikeout totals (33.4% during his career) and it bottomed out at .199 last season. He does take plenty of walks though and still posted a palatable .307 OBP last season. The total package added up to an above average offensive producer in each of the last four seasons, and he posted a 101 wRC+ last season and has a career mark of 111 wRC+ with a .217/.312/.452 batting line.
Defensively, simply labeling Carter as a liability might be actually be a compliment. After playing only 20 games in the field in 2014 and spending most of his time at designated hitter, Carter was forced back into regular action at first base last season. He totaled -6 DRS in 115 games at first in 2015 and has a -14 mark for his career. He's got some experience in left field, as well, but is even worse there: -9 DRS in just 77 career appearances. His atrocious defense has been a significant detriment to his overall value and has limited his production to just a combined 2.6 fWAR over the past three seasons.
Chris made $4.175 mil last season after qualifying for arbitration as a Super 2 player and was projected for a $5.6 mil payday this winter on the strength of his high home run totals before the Astros non-tendered him. He definitely wouldn't cost the Brewers that much now and there's probably a chance he could be signed to some sort of incentive laden minor-league deal. Any club that inks the soon to be 29 year old could theoretically control him for another three seasons through arbitration, though for Milwaukee it'd probably make the most sense to sign him with the intent of allowing him to establish some trade value before next deadline. That could be a tough proposition though, considering that the Astros shopped him pretty hard before the non-tender deadline and were unable to find a deal, resulting in his release.
Carter's hypothetical addition to the club would probably displace Jason Rogers, who also bats right handed and is limited to first base but has minor league options remaining. The soon to be 28 year old showed that he could handle big-league pitching in limited duty last season, posting a 121 wRC+ in 169 plate appearances as a backup first baseman and the club's primary pinch hitter. He's currently the most obvious in-house option to take over at first and in my opinion, he's earned himself at least a share of the reps there in a platoon role and doesn't really have anything left to prove by mashing minor league pitching.
Dingers are fun and all, but Chris Carter would probably be best utilized as a designated hitter for an American League team and seems like an imperfect fit for the Brewers roster.