After trading Adam Lind, it looked like Jason Rogers would be the Brewers everyday first baseman. After the Brewers traded Rogers, the Crew had no one on the roster to take over. The Brewers have now filled the vacancy with slugger Chris Carter on a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
This is a really nice bargain, especially for a power hitter like Carter, coming to a hitter’s environment in Miller Park. Carter was non-tendered by the Astros thanks to his worst numbers since joining Houston, with a .199/.307/.427 slash, a 32.8 K%, and 24 home runs.
Carter has top of the scale power and is just one year removed from a 122 wRC+ and 37 home runs, so the upside is certainly there. His home run total in 2015 was stifled by lost opportunities late in the year, despite an OPS of .885 after the All-Star break. Carter also had a tough luck .244 BABIP in 2015, and while his career BABIP is just .275, we should see his fortune improve over last season.
He is a “three true outcomes” Mark Reynolds type, but unfortunately Carter is an even more poorly regarded defender, and spent all of 2014 as the Astros designated hitter. Then again, Reynolds and Lind were supposed to be dismal defenders when they joined the Crew, and fans were pleasantly surprised by their efforts.
Carter should be better than during his down 2015, which could also make him a potential trade piece at the deadline, a factor in every free agent signing for a rebuilding team that is very likely to miss the playoffs.
If you’re a Brewers fan that thinks Khris Davis is a bad player, you’re probably not going to enjoy watching Carter’s similar swing-and-miss style, but strikeouts and batting average don’t absolutely determine a player’s value, particularly when the player has the on-base and power abilities that Carter and Davis share.
It is also worth mentioning that Carter is a slow starter like Aramis Ramirez was, posting easily his worst numbers in the first month of the season. His career .635 OPS in March and April is over 100 points lower than his next worst month, May. So if the Brewers toss Carter out there every day to start the year and he’s really struggling, bear with him. He’s just warming up.