The Brewers and Pirates have been scouting Red Sox first baseman Mike Carp, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. The competition at first base has only gotten more crowded since early January, as Juan Francisco, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, and Hunter Morris are currently competing for what will likely be two roster spots. Carp, another left-handed bat, would further jumble the mix at first.
In the months prior to the 2013 season, rumors were floating around of the Brewers’ interest in Carp, but nothing substantial ever came of them. Carp, 27, went on to have his best season, batting .296/.362/.523 with nine home runs in 243 plate appearances for Boston. After going through his ups and downs with the Mariners for fractions of four separate seasons, Carp posted career-best numbers in nearly all major offensive categories, including OBP, SLG, OPS, wRC+, wOBA, AVG, and RE24.
Nothing serious has developed from the rumor of the Brewers scouting Carp yet. The Pirates, rather, could be considered “bigger players” for Carp at this moment, according to a source. Current Pirates’ first baseman Gaby Sanchez hit left-handed pitching at a .333/.448/.539 clip with a nice BB/K last season, but struggled against right-handers (.204 average, 0.66 BB/K).
For either team, Carp would almost assuredly become a part of a platoon at first. Carp hit .300 with a 144 wRC+ off right-handers–though that was inflated partially by a .380 BABIP.
How likely would the Brewers be to pull the trigger on Carp?
Almost assuredly he’d be an upgrade to the other left-handed hitting options the Brewers currently have in Francisco and Overbay (this coming from one of the leaders of the Juan Francisco Bandwagon). Brewers’ management, however, was reluctant to give up a substantial return for the Mets Ike Davis, who would probably prompt a slightly higher demand than would Carp.
The Brewers scouting of Carp and the Red Sox in the Grapefruit League shows that possible answers are still being searched for at first base.
In addition to first base, Carp can also play the outfield, where he actually spent more innings defensively in 2013 than in the infield. In both locations, Carp was below-average, worth -3 DRS in the outfield and -1 DRS at first, with a -3.3 and -1.1 UZR, respectively. With the Brewers likely carrying seven infielders and only four outfielders with the current roster, Carp would add versatility and depth defensively.
One thing, however, is for sure: Fish Fry Friday would get a heckuva lot more interesting with Mike Carp in town.