As the cuts keep coming, the picture for the Twins' Opening Day roster becomes clearer. Many of the prospects have been sent down to the minors already, but there are still some battles waging down in Fort Myers. Despite a horrid spring at the plate, Jason Bartlett is still fighting for a bench spot. The bullpen still has a spot or two to be claimed. The rotation needs a fifth starter, and of course, the Twins have a logjam of first basemen and corner outfielders.
Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted yesterday that the Houston Astros are looking for a first baseman, and have specifically looked towards Mike Carp of the Red Sox, Tyler Moore of the Nationals, and John Mayberry, Jr. of the Phillies. However, Stark adds that none of those three players appear to be likely fits, probably because of the trade demands from their respective teams.
First base (among many other things) was pretty brutal for the Astros last year. They started with Carlos Pena, who saw his calling card of power disappear as he struggled to a .209/.324/.350 line with 8 homers in 325 plate appearances before being designated for assignment. Former top prospect Brett Wallace was a little better by hitting .221/.284/.431 with 10 homers in 285 plate appearances, but he too was designated for assignment this offseason, and a telling sign was that no teams were interested in claiming him off waivers. Their final option was Chris Carter, who spent a little more than half of his playing time at first base last season. While Carter hit .223/.320/.451 and accumulated nearly 600 plate appearances, his defense was atrocious and I'm sure the Astros would probably prefer for him to be a designated hitter.
Because of their lack of a first baseman they can trust on the roster, and Stark's hypothesis that Carp, Moore, and Mayberry are not feasible options, I think the Twins could probably jump in by offering either Chris Colabello or Chris Parmelee in a trade to the Astros.
I want you all to know that I'm not suggesting this trade in an effort to swindle a solid prospect from Houston. No, I'm saying that the Twins should consider a trade similar to the one that sent Ryan Doumit to Atlanta, a trade where the benefit is more on unloading some dead weight rather than getting a good return. With Joe Mauer at first base for this season, there likely won't be much playing time for Colabello or Parmelee unless there is an opening in the corner outfield or designated hitter, and that will only happen if something occurs to Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, and/or Jason Kubel.
A reason I think a trade like this could work is that the Twins likely wouldn't ask for much for either player in a trade. Colabello has potential but is also 30 years old and his hitting approach is in line with minor league sluggers that received the dreaded "Quadruple-A" label. Parmelee is showing more and more that his strong September cup of coffee in 2011 was fluky, so these players don't have a lot of trade value and acquiring them would be quite easy.
Granted, a counterargument is that if these players aren't so great, then why would any team be interested in acquiring them in the first place? Well, Houston has two reasons to accept a mediocre first baseman. First, they're definitely not going to be competing for the playoffs this season, so they would likely want someone who could just merely be competent at the bag. Second, they have prospect Jonathan Singleton that should be making his major league debut sometime this season. If he has a strong showing at Triple-A, the Astros would like a reason to push aside the incumbent to make room for Singleton, and players like Colabello or Parmelee would be reasonable options to bench in favor of the rookie.
Again, the reason I'm suggesting a trade is because I feel that either Parmelee (designated for assignment) or Colabello (sent to minors) won't make the Opening Day roster, so trading away one could allow the Twins to possibly get something of some value in return instead of possibly losing one of these players for nothing. I must admit that I don't think a trade like this will actually come to fruition, but there is the potential for it to happen.