MLB Trade Candidates: First Base

By Matt Johnson on Friday, July 7th 2017
MLB Trade Candidates: First Base

Yonder Alonso, Oakland Athletics

2017 Stats: .279/.375/.567, 19 HR, .942 OPS, .392 wOBA, 150 wRC+

A former top prospect, Alonso landed in Oakland with the hopes that a change of scenery could bring about change and see him play close to the form of an everyday first baseman. But his first season with the Athletics continued a trend of a disappointing career with a .253/.316/.367 slash line, .299 wOBA and 88 wRC+. He hit just seven home runs in 532 plate appearances, to give him a combined 19 home runs from 2014-'16.

To say things have changed this season would be an understatement. With a new swing, Alonso tapped into his power stroke like never before and already has 19 home runs in 285 plate appearances this season. The 30-year-old's bat vaulted him into the thick of Oakland's lineup, where he has thrived . He is just 21 RBIs shy of surpassing his career high and eight runs shy of surpassing his career-best mark of 52.

While Alonso is on the 'older' side of his prime now that he is in his 30, it leaves Oakland's front office with a tough decision. They could engage with Alonso, who wants to stay with the team, in extension talks and lock him up for the next three-plus seasons. On the other hand, they could take advantage of Alonso's big year and explore a trade with the New York Yankees, who badly need an upgrade at the position.

it's worth noting that Alonso is cooling down from his hot start. Since the start of June, Alonso has hit just five home runs and posted a .265 batting average across 129 plate appearances. But while the batting average and home run totals have dropped, he still posted a .349 wOBA and 121 wRC+ over that span. If he lands in a place like Yankee Stadium, Alonso's power totals could come back in a big way.

Lucas Duda, New York Mets

2017 Stats: .249/.359/.548, 14 HR, .908 OPS, 377 wOBA, 137 wRC+

The first base trade market thins out some after Alonso and Duda is certainly proof of that. The 31-year-old, left-handed hitter is in the midst of a strong year, but certainly carries notable risk as a regression candidate and comes with injury risk as well.

When Duda is healthy, he can put up some high-end power production. He combined for 57 home runs from 2014-'15 and has 14 home runs in 231 plate appearances this season. Duda also carries a respectable batting average for a slugging first baseman with a .249 mark this season. More importantly, he continued to post a strong wRC+ that sits near his marks in 2014 and 2015.

He could certainly make for a solid acquisition for a club , especially given he is a left-handed power bat. But teams will have to look at his current .299 isolated power and his 21.9 percent HR/FB rate to determine how much regression they should expect given his career .211 ISO and 14.7 percent HR/FB rate.

An impending free agent on a bad team, it makes all the sense in the world for New York to move him. He may not have to travel either as the Yankees could be a potential trade fit. Whoever ends up calling, New York would be wise to move him by July 31 and get whatever they can for his services.

Matt Adams, Atlanta Braves

2017 Stats: .285/.332/.536, 13 HRs, .868 OPS, .357wOBA,  120 wRC+

When Atlanta lost Freddie Freeman to a fractured wrist, it reacted quickly to the vacancy at first base. For the cost of a small prospect, the Braves took a chance that a change of scenery would do some good for Adams and land them an adequate fill-in for the time being in a transition year. Instead, Adams has played so well that Freeman shifted over to third base and it appears both corner infield spots are locked down.

But the organization should give real contemplation to trading Adams. His value is at an all-time high and while his numbers at the plate with the Braves are outstanding, Freeman belongs at first base and should be returned there. So why not turn a small, emergency trade into a fantastic flip that lands Atlanta a better prospect than it started with.

Adams is certainly worth it. Atlanta gave him the opportunity to start every day when he looked finished in St. Louis. Since Hearst appeared in the Braves lineup, he posted a 283/.329/.579 line, .370 wOBA, 128 wRC+, 12 home runs and .908 OPS in 173 plate appearances for his new team. A first baseman that three months ago was bound for his final arbitration with no momentum and a cloudy future for any significant playing time in the near future.

A trade could work out well for both sides. Adams could find himself dealt to a playoff contender and see significant playing time, while the Braves can turn 10 cents into $1. While Adams may not be the top first baseman available, his power from the left side of the plate paired with another year of team control through arbitration in 2018, make him a worthwhile first baseman to acquire for multiple teams.

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