MLB Free Agents 2012: Evaluating the Chicago Cubs' Options at First for 2012

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIOctober 30, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: Evaluating the Chicago Cubs' Options at First for 2012

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    With the MLB postseason all wrapped up, all of baseball's attention will be turned to free agency and trades. The Chicago Cubs will be looking to fill many different holes, but most of all they will be looking to improve at first base, considering all of the options they will have going into 2012.

    In 2011, the Chicago Cubs had first baseman Carlos Pena, but they only signed him to a one year contract. It is not certain that Pena will be out of Chicago for 2012, so there is still a possibility for his return.

    New Cubs' president Theo Epstein and his general manager Jed Hoyer are going to have their hands full this winter.

    Including Pena, the free agent class of 2012 has many solid options at first base. The Cubs also have some internal options. The other possibility is exploring trades, as there is always a chance that another team could be looking to deal.

    Here are eight possible options for the Chicago Cubs at first base for 2012.

Russel Branyan

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    2011 Team: Los Angeles Angels/Arizona Diamondbacks

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .197 BA, 14 RBI, 5 HR and .994 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $1-2 Million a Year

    Would He Fit?

    While Branyan posses an excellent cheap option for the Cubs for 2012, perhaps he isn't the best option in the end. At 35 years old, Branyan has worsened each season in hitting. While his fielding has been excellent, the lack of hitting doesn't really add to the Cubs; the only benefit is him being a lefty.

James Loney

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    2011 Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

    Availability: Trade, Arbitration Eligible

    2011 Stats: .288 BA, 65 RBI, 12 HR and .996 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $4.66 Million as well as prospects or young major league players

    Would He Fit?

    James Loney would be an excellent option for the Chicago Cubs. He is only 27 years old and is a big lefty bat as well.

    The Dodgers will likely be hesitant to part ways with their young first baseman, but it really depends on how things go in arbitration. They will also be going to arbitration with Matt Kemp this winter, and it is hard to imagine them being able to take on both contracts considering the Dodgers' current situation.

Prince Fielder

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    2011 Team: Milwaukee Brewers

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .299 BA, 120 RBI, 38 HR and .990 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $230+ Million over many years

    Would He Fit?

    Prince Fielder will likely be bringing in the second or third biggest pay check this winter, after Albert Pujols and possibly CC Sabathia.

    Fielder is one whom many Cubs fans favor in the Cubs' "first base sweepstakes," but it isn't clear yet if President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are going to be looking to spend big or not. If they are looking to spend big, they may want to start at the big lefty hailing from Milwaukee.

Derrek Lee

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    2011 Team: Baltimore Orioles/Pittsburgh Pirates

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .267 BA, 59 RBI, 19 HR and .992 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $5-7 Million a Year

    Would He Fit?

    This may be more of a long-shot, but if the Cubs want to get their locker room back in shape, they should take a look at former Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee.

    When Lee was apart of the Cubs' organization, he was a fan favorite and was a great face for the Cubs. At 36 years old, the Cubs may look at other younger options, but Lee did have a good end of the year once he went to Pittsburgh, hitting .337 with seven home runs in just 29 games.

Bryan LeHair

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    2011 Team: Chicago Cubs

    Availability: Minor League

    2011 Stats: .288 BA, 6 RBI, 2 HR and 1.000 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: N/A, but > $1 million

    Would He Fit?

    Towards the end of the 2011 season, the Cubs gave Bryan LaHair a shot at some playing time since the Cubs were hurt and had nothing going for them.

    While he showed some promise, it still isn't for sure if the Cubs see him as an immediate option. At 28 years old, LaHair's time is running up, but the Cubs may see him as a money saving option to take over first base for 2012.

Albert Pujols

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    2011 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .299 BA, 99 RBI, 37 HR and .824 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $250+ Million

    Would He Fit?

    Albert Pujols would fit in Chicago easily. He is one of the greatest players of his generation and is also very noticeable face in the NL Central playing for the Cubs' rival Cardinals.

    While Pujols would definitely be an upgrade for the Cubs, it is more of a question of whether or not the price tag will be too high to take the risk in this time of rebuilding.

Carlos Pena

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    2011 Team: Chicago Cubs

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .225 BA, 80 RBI, 28 HR and .993 Fielding Percentage

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $5-7 Million

    Would He Fit?

    The Chicago Cubs gave Carlos Pena a chance in 2011, and it certainly didn't pay dividends. Pena is a great leader though, as well as a solid fielder, so there is no reason to eliminate him. Jim Hendry was the guy who brought Pena to Chicago, so it will be seen if Theo Epstein sees Pena as a viable option for 2012.

Nick Swisher

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    2011 Team: New York Yankees

    Availability: Free Agent

    2011 Stats: .260 BA, 85 RBI and 23 HR

    What Would it Costs Cubs: $9-10 Million

    Would He Fit?

    While Nick Swisher is primarily known as an outfielder, he has played 266 games at the first base position. Due to his inconsistency though, he may not be the best option.

    When he has played first though, he has averaged a .994 fielding percentage over eight seasons. Swisher is also a veteran and is said to be a great guy to have in the locker room.

    Jeff Chase is from Chicago and is an undergrad at Arizona State University. He currently is interning with B/R and is in process of becoming a Featured Columnist for Arizona State football.

    More Cubs Articles by Jeff Chase:

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    Mark Buehrle Could Be Chicago's Rivalry Steal

    5 Pitchers the Cubs Should Target

    Roy Oswalt is Great Fit for Chicago

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