Chris Carter has had quite a year to remember. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Carter was non-tendered by the Houston Astros, where he had spent the past three seasons, before being signed to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million by the Milwaukee Brewers. Carter ended up having a monstrous 2016 campaign, but was ultimately tossed out and replaced by Eric Thames, a man who has not played in the MLB since 2013.
Now, there's a perfectly good reason why a first baseman who slugged forty-one home runs for the Brewers in 2016, and it's not because of his 206 strikeouts and .222/.321/.499 slash line. It's because Carter was expected to make up to $10 million in arbitration, something that the Brewers wanted to avoid. However, being let go by the Brewers could be a bless in disguise for Carter.
Before Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians, reports indicated that up to six teams had deals ready to offer to Carter, but the hold up was due to the delay in Encarncaion's market. Now that EE is signed, Carter has become a hot commodity on the market, and after a bounce-back campaign, a big pay-day could be on the horizon.
However, which team will be willing to gamble on Carter's coveted power, and where would he have the best chance to re-create his 2016 campaign?
After going through Carter's career splits at ballparks league-wide, as well as first base situations for each team, I have been able to determine that the best chances for Carter to re-create his campaign will belong with the Colorado Rockies in the National League and the Seattle Mariners in the American League.
Sure, the Rockies have already signed utility man Ian Desmond to a five year deal and have him slated to man first base for the 2017 season. However, that will not work out for the club in my personal opinion. The Rockies have clear interest in fellow free agent Mark Trumbo, but he comes with draft pick compensation, something that Carter does not have.
In his career, Carter has played seven games at Coors Field. Despite the extremely small sample size, Carter has slashed .345/367/.897 in those games, with his batting average ranking second among parks he has played at, his on-base percentage ranking ninth, and his slugging percentage ranking in first. To add to his case, Carter has hit four home runs and driven in nine runners during that span, an absurd rate given the sample size. Plus, it's Coors Field. His power numbers, which are already impressive as it is, would be given a nice boost if the Rockies pulled the trigger on him.
An added bonus to signing Carter would be that the Rockies would land a free agent who has no draft pick compensation trailing him, meaning that the team would not lose anymore draft picks in the 2017 draft. However, signing Carter would put Desmond in the outfield, creating another logjam and potentially another trade. But, that's a good thing. Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez would be the ones most likely to depart, and both would give the Rockies quite an impressive haul of prospects and/or major league talent, thus healing the hole created by losing the eleventh pick in the 2017 draft left by the signing of Desmond.
This makes a bit more sense than going to the Rockies, but then again, according to depth charts, Danny Valencia and Dan Vogelbach currently man the first base ship. Luckily, Carter's experience as a DH gives him flexibility to play there and alternate between the two positions, plus it gives the team another option to man the DH ship with Nelson Cruz.
Carter has played 39 career games at Safeco Field, the fourth most at any ballpark in his career, behind O.co Coliseum, Miller Park, and Minute Maid Park. During that 39 game span, Carter has slashed .278/.377/.586 and has hit 12 home runs and driven in 27 runners. He also sports a healthy .379 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) and a tOPS+ of 147.
The Mariners could also invest in Mike Napoli, but as the Texas Rangers appear to be front-runners in that race, the next best option would be to go after Chris Carter.
With his immense power, but minuscule batting consistency, both parks seems very fitting for his tools. Both parks are prone to home runs and helping batting average, which, in this case, would help Carter's career .218 batting average immensely. But, until rumors begin to circulate on Carter again, no one will know exactly who is in and who is out on the slugger.null