Colorado Rockies: Without Encarnacion, What’s Next at First?
The Colorado Rockies haven’t been in serious talks on Mark Trumbo for over a week when Jeff Bridich said “it’d be stupid not to keep track” of both Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion. Neither are ideal candidates at first base. Now that Encarnancion signed with the Indians, the focus is on Trumbo.
While his bat would be heaven sent, Trumbo played six games at the position in 2016. Trumbo’s talents are better projected for the American League. The flexibility of the DH position, led him into a career renaissance hitting 47 home runs. In 2014 he only played 88 games with the Diamondbacks hitting 14 homers. The next year after playing for the Mariners for half the season, he was traded to the Orioles in what was essentially a salary dump.
Playing every day in the field may hinder Trumbo’s chances at repeating the production he had at the plate in Baltimore. Trumbo is enticing but should only be considered if the Rockies can get him for less than a multi-year contract the Orioles could and probably will give him. Trumbo would be a true gift for the Rockies but this signing shouldn’t come before they address the issues in the bullpen.
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On that note, here are some options if Trumbo doesn’t don the purple pinstripes. Mike Napoli would be a more than solid option. He had a similar career arc with the Indians as Trumbo did with the Orioles. He hit 34 home runs and reached the plate well over 600 times. The Rangers seem to be the front-runners but he would demand much less than Trumbo or Encarnacion would with the added benefit of not having a qualifying offer. His base running and defensive skills are much to be desired but he has played more first base last year than Ian Desmond, Trumbo and Encarnacion combined.
Another option may be to sign Luis Valbuena from the Astros or Steve Pearce from the Yankees. Both played first base but both had season ending injuries. The benefit here is the price tag. You could get either of these guys for two years under $15 million. Both of these players have more experience than Desmond at first but the potential he could bring at position is more intriguing than bringing in stop gap players. Besides Valbuena played significantly more time at third last year. Pearce projects more as a utility player. With Daniel Descalso and the signing of Alexi Amarista, Pearce would seemingly be a redundant signing.
But if you are going to save money then the best option may be to re-sign Mark Reynolds. It won’t please many Rockies fans but giving him another year will reward him for bringing stability and a relaxing presence in the clubhouse. He didn’t blow anyone away at the position but he didn’t swing for the fences and whiff as much as what has defined him for most of his career. He’s well liked and can provide stability until a more formidable option comes along.
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The market just isn’t rich with true first baseman talent. Therefore making a stopgap all the more intriguing. If Trumbo is there for relatively little, to quote Bridich, “it’d be stupid” not to. Otherwise, stick to what you have. Or what you used to have.