With Mark Reynolds now officially off the board, the Baltimore Orioles still need to address first base. Let me preface all of this by reminding fans that we aren’t even past Christmas as of yet; the hot stove season is just getting cracking now! There’s a lot of time between now and spring training, so Orioles fans shouldn’t worry about who’s on first for the time being. However still, the O’s need to figure out in what direction they want to go. If no moves are made, I suppose that Chris Davis will be the default first baseman in 2012. That was the plan this past season, however Davis struggled defensively. With the aforementioned Reynolds struggling at third, Davis became the DH and Reynolds moved over to first where he had a great season. That’s not going to be an option in 2013. So what’s a team to do?
During the winter meetings there were rumors that the Orioles were interested in trading for Michael Morse of the Washington Nationals. I think that’s still a possibility, however I suspect that Washington’s asking price was fairly high (otherwise Morse would be here). They were also interested in signing former National Adam LaRoche, however reports out of Nashville were that LaRoche was looking for a three-year deal. Most of the teams interested in him (including the Orioles) were only interested in signing him for two years. Quite frankly, the guy’s coming off of a gold glove year, so perhaps he has the leverage to ask for three. However he’s also had his injury problems, and he’s not exactly the spring chicken.
So who else is out there? Former Oriole first basemen Aubrey Huff and Ty Wiggington are available, however I don’t think the Orioles are looking to go in that direction. Former Oriole farmhand Brandon Snyder is also a free agent, but he would be a project (one that the O’s didn’t finish at that). I think that if the Orioles are going to bring someone in and anoint them as the starting first baseman it’s going to be someone that isn’t over-the-hill, but who also has enough experience to justify handing him the job. In terms of free agents, Casey Kotchman is a name that sticks out at me. Granted he’s only a career .267 hitter, but he’s a good defensive first baseman and he’s only 30 years old. Might the O’s be able to land him?
More realistically, I believe they’ll find their first baseman of 2013 (and perhaps beyond) via trade. Dan Duquette has shown a willingness to deal some of his young pitching if need be, and there’s no question that first base is a glaring need for the Orioles right now. We heard at the trade deadline back in July that there was a lot of interest in Jake Arrieta among others, so I would think there’s a chance that he’s still expendable. There might be a possibility that the trail on Michael Morse isn’t quite dead yet, however time will tell. While he has his injury issues also, Morse could possibly platoon at first and DH along with Chris Davis, which would allow the O’s to see if Davis is serviceable in that position moving forward. I’ll leave it at this: the Orioles will have someone playing first base on Opening Day, 2013!