A’s Add Chris Carter, Increase Depth at First Base

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OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 18: Chris Carter #48 of the New York Yankees bats against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the second inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on June 18, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Oakland A’s have signed free agent Chris Carter to a minor league deal, according to John Heyman of FanRag Sports.

A’s Add Chris Carter, Increase Depth at First Base

The first baseman spent his first three seasons in Oakland before being traded to the Houston Astros, where he got his first opportunity to play an entire season at the major league level. With consistent playing time, Carter became a serious threat at the plate. He hit 29 home runs in his first season with Houston (albeit with 212 strikeouts). He followed that up with 37 homers in 145 games in 2014, and 24 in 129 games in 2015. He was a thorn in the A’s side during his time in Houston, often coming up big in late-game situations against his former team. In 2014, he hit seven home runs in 18 games against the A’s.

Carter’s best season in terms of homers was with the Milwaukee Brewers last year; he hit a career high 41 home runs (but struck out 206 times). This year, with the New York Yankees, he hit only eight home runs and batted a miserable .201 before being designated for assignment.

The A’s are likely hoping to see Carter’s power at the plate return, while fully aware of his propensity for strike outs. His career batting average is .217 and his career-best thus far has been .239.

By most accounts, it seems that the A’s are preparing for the trade of Yonder Alonso. Rumors have swirled around the A’s first baseman for weeks, and Carter will provide additional depth at first base in the event of Yonder’s departure. However, the A’s currently have young slugger Ryon Healy, who can play some first base, as well as Matt Olson, a versatile 1B/OF who has blasted 19 home runs in 68 games at Triple-A Nashville. He also hit four home runs in 16 games during a recent stint with the big league club. Additionally, Olson has good arm strength and accuracy at the first base position.

The A’s have re-signed other former players in recent memory, including players currently on the roster (Adam Rosales, Rajai Davis, and Jed Lowrie). Rosales was a nice option when Marcus Semien broke his wrist, and Lowrie has been an asset on both offense and defense, successfully avoiding the injury bug that has plagued him in the past. He may also be a valuable trade piece as the deadline draws closer. Davis has not been as successful in his return to Oakland. While he may provide a nice veteran presence in the clubhouse and is a threat on the bases, he has a below-average outfield arm and is hitting just .227.

As for Chris Carter, it remains to be seen whether he will be a valuable asset like Lowrie or a below-average addition like Rajai. For Carter, the deal with the A’s gives him the chance to prove his worth before he becomes a free agent again this postseason. For the A’s, Carter is a low-risk signing with the potential for high returns if he regains his power stroke. At the very least, Carter provides another option at first if the younger players need additional time to develop.

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