The Remaining Right-Handed Hitting 1B/DH Options for the 2011 Blue Jays

On Saturday, MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Blue Jays were one of six teams that were interested in Derrek Lee.

Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but Lee represents one of the best remaining options for the Jays as a 1B/DH. It was revealed that the Washington Nationals, however, are targeting Lee to replace Adam Dunn, who signed a 4-year/$56M deal with the White Sox earlier this month.

Below is a list of the remaining right-handed hitting 1B/DH options the Jays could sign for next season:

Derrek Lee:

Lee had a season below his career numbers, which he split between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. After a slow start with the Cubs, Lee hit .287/.384/.465 in 151 plate appearances with the Braves and finished the year with 19 HR and 80 RBI.

Although his power is declining as he gets older (worst power season of his career in 2010), he still has the ability to get on base, as evidenced by his minimum 71 walks in each of the last four seasons. Lee is one of the best defensive first baseman in the game, with a +12.5 UZR over the last three seasons, which would be quite valuable for the Jays with Adam Lind just learning the position.

Lee did have some injury problems last season, and he didn’t hit lefties in 2010 as well as he normally does. He could rebound in 2011, and could likely be had on a 1-2 year contract, probably around $7-8M per season. He has, however, expressed an interest in playing for a “contender” in 2011.

Troy Glaus:

In Glaus’ first season as a full-time first baseman, he compiled a .240/.344/.400 line along with 16 HR and 71 RBI in 128 for the Atlanta Braves in 2010. He also drew 63 walks and struck out 100 times.

It’s highly unlikely Glaus would want to return to Toronto, but there’s the outside chance that he would consider returning as a first baseman.

Considering he signed a 1-year/$1.75M deal for 2010, he could be a cheap, stopgap option for the Jays at 1B/DH if all else fails.

Willy Aybar :

The only switch hitter to make this list, Aybar didn’t have an overly spectacular 2010 season at the plate, where he hit .230/.309/.344 with 6 HR and 43 RBI in 100 games with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Defensively, Aybar only played 16 innings at first base in 2010, but played 359.1 innings there from 2008-2009. Aybar has only committed one error at first base in the last three seasons, and hits southpaws better than right-handers.

Aybar was non-tendered by the Rays earlier this month, and made only $1.35M in 2010. A native of the Dominican Republic, Aybar will only be 28 next season and is one of the younger options available on the free agent market.

Jorge Cantu:

Cantu suffered his worst statistical season since a shortened 2007 campaign, in which he split time in the NL/AL just like he did in 2010. In 127 games with the Florida Marlins and Texas Rangers this season, Cantu hit .256/.304/.392 with 11 HR and 56 RBI.

His stats weren’t spectacular when he started the year in Florida, and they got worse when he came over to Texas mid-season with just 1 HR and 2 RBI in 98 at-bats after the trade.

Cantu definitely won’t see a 2011 contract close to the $6M he made in 2010, but regardless his recent struggles in the American League and against left-handed pitching ensure he won’t be considered by the Jays for 2011.

Other options include Garrett Atkins (cut loose by the Orioles just 44 games into the season after struggling mightily), and Mike Sweeney (who has never played more than 74 games in a season since 2005), but both are unlikely scenarios.

Out of these options, and the left-handed hitting options I touched on yesterday, the obvious favorite would be Derrek Lee, but there will no doubt be competition for his services if the Jays are in fact interested.

-JM

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Derrek Lee Garrett Atkins Jorge Cantu Mike Sweeney Toronto Blue Jays Troy Glaus Washington Nationals Willy Aybar

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