First base has been a cause for concern for the Milwaukee Brewers ever since the mighty Prince Fielder packed his bags after the 2011 season. The team has gone through the likes of Lyle Overbay, Travis Ishikawa, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Reynolds and even Yuniesky Betancourt to try to fill the void, but as you can probably tell by those names, the experiment went awry.
But the Brewers are still trying. On Satuday, the Brewers acquired first baseman Adam Lind from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Marco Estrada. We all know who Marco Estrada is; a decent long reliever and a dreadful starter. But who is Adam Lind and what can the Brewers expect from him?
Lind is 31 years old and has been in the major leagues since 2006. Lind has hit over .300 only twice in his career, but batting average is hardly a good measurement of a player’s offensive production, so don’t let that scare you. The left-handed hitter has a career .342 wOBA and 110 wRC+. To put that in comparison, Jonathan Lucroy has an identical career wOBA and a 113 wRC+. Lind also brings power to Milwaukee; he’s hit 20+ home runs in three seasons, including 2009 in which he blasted 35 homers.
Lind has never found consistency when it comes to getting on base, but has seen his on-base percentage rise over the last four seasons.
Milwaukee’s first basemen have only managed a .290 OBP since 2012. The addition of Lind will surely improve that.
Lind will need a platoon partner, however. Like Scooter Gennett (I miss you, Rickie), Lind has an extremely hard time hitting southpaws and only saw 33 at-bats against them in 2014. He’s a career .212 hitter when a lefty is on the mound. But this shouldn’t be a problem and I don’t believe the Brewers need to go out and find a right-handed hitting first baseman. They can just use Jonathan Lucroy.
When the Brewers face a left-handed pitcher, move Lucroy to first and Martin Maldonado will spell him at catcher. Maldonado is a phenomenal defensive catcher and about average with the bat, and Lucroy has played in 28 games at first, so it’s not like experience is an issue. Obviously, this shouldn’t/won’t happen every time they face a lefty as Lucroy needs his rest, but for the most part, it’s a perfectly sound solution. No available first baseman is as good a hitter as Lucroy, anyway.
On the defensive side, Lind leaves a lot to be desired. The last two seasons he’s posted a -3.9 UZR which is just below average, but I’m sure the Brewers won’t mind his defensive flaws if he can make noise with his bat.
Before the trade went down, the Blue Jays had exercised Lind’s $7.5 million option for 2015. Lind also has a $8 million team option for 2016.
So to recap, the Brewers traded a potential non-tender candidate in Marco Estrada for a good hitting first baseman who could be with the team beyond this upcoming season. This was a great trade by Doug Melvin and Co.