All off-season I’ve been seeing Mike Carp’s name thrown around on fan wish lists for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first base position. The only problem with this is that Carp has never really been mentioned as a guy who is available. The Pirates were mentioned as a team that was scouting him a week ago, but it hasn’t seemed like the Red Sox were really shopping him.
Carp makes $1.4 M, which is affordable for Boston as a bench bat. They’re an AL team, so they can afford to carry a first baseman on the bench due to the DH and the lack of pitching changes they need to make in the later innings. And the type of trade return that Carp would demand — probably a mid-level prospect — isn’t really that valuable to a team like the Red Sox. That seemingly leaves two options. The Red Sox could keep Carp, and get more value than they would from a Grade B/C lower level pitching prospect. Or they could trade him if a team is willing to pay a high price for him.
It’s possible that Grady Sizemore could change all of this. Sizemore is looking healthy in Red Sox camp, and could be a candidate to make the roster on the bench. Buster Olney tied his health to the possibility that Carp could be dealt to another team.
If Sizemore is good to go–and it appears he is–Mike Carp could be a nice fit with another team. PIT, for instance. http://t.co/UEZSdk310K
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 12, 2014
The Pirates are one of two teams who really need a first baseman. The Milwaukee Brewers are the other team mentioned as looking at Carp. Currently they’ve got a platoon of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds at first base. Meanwhile, the Pirates have Andrew Lambo as their platoon option against right-handers.
Carp had a big season last year, with a .296/.362/.523 line in 243 plate appearances. However, he will probably see some regression, due to his .385 BABIP. His career BABIP is .333. He’s probably closer to a .250-.275 hitter than a guy around .300. I do think his power is legit, although probably not as strong as the 2013 season when he had a .227 ISO. He’s probably going to be closer to his career .177 ISO. I think the expectations should be closer to his career numbers, which shows a .267/.337/.444 line in 851 plate appearances.
There is still some value here, but if you’re giving up a big return for Carp, then you’re probably paying for his 2013 numbers. Paying for his career numbers is the smarter approach. Unless the Red Sox go with Sizemore on the bench — making it harder to keep a spot for Carp — I don’t see them accepting less than a big return.