Brewers: Could First Baseman Matt Adams Be a Free Agent Target?

Matt Adams, Atlanta Braves Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Adams, Atlanta Braves Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

With free agency officially underway, here at Reviewing the Brew we will examine some free agent targets that may be a good fit for the Brewers. Today, we will look at first baseman Matt Adams.

After failed Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison experiments at first base and Jedd Gyorko‘s option being declined, the Brewers may once again be in the need of a first baseman. Of course a decision still has to be made on Daniel Vogelbach, who is estimated to make anywhere from $1.4MM-$1.9MM in his first year of arbitration.

Depending upon how confident the Brewers feel in Vogelbach, especially if there is no universal DH in 2021, we could see yet another new face at first base this year. As another left-handed batter, Matt Adams could be a target for the Milwaukee Brewers, but it would only make sense to pursue him if they elect to move on from Vogelbach.

Why pursue Matt Adams?  Hasn’t he primarily been a platoon player throughout the duration of his nine year career?  What would a contract look like?

Yes, it is true that he has been strictly a platoon player throughout his MLB career. As a homegrown talent out of the Cardinals organization, he spent his first two seasons platooning with Allen Craig before platooning with Mark Reynolds and Jedd Gyorko in seasons after that. In 2017, he was traded to the Braves after Freddie Freeman fractured his wrist. He ended up signing with the Nationals in 2018 where he platooned with Ryan Zimmerman at first base.

His career offensive splits completely support the fact that he should face right-handed pitching only as he has a career .270 batting average and .486 slugging percentage and just a .211 batting average and .381 slugging percentage versus left-handed pitchers. All of this put together equals a career .259 batting average and .467 slugging percentage.

Of his six MLB seasons in which he accrued a minimum of 300 plate appearances, he has an average of 18 home runs per season. This number is quite impressive seeing how he typically hangs around the low to mid 300s in terms of plate appearances and an everyday MLB player will see approximately double that number.

Matt Adams also is a good hitter with runners in scoring position, which was an area in which the 2020 Milwaukee Brewers struggled immensely. Throughout his career, Adams has hit .282 in these situations.

There are some areas in which Adams has his flaws. The first, from an offensive standpoint, is that he tends to struggle versus power pitchers, or high-velocity throwers. According to Baseball Reference, he has a .219 career batting average against power pitchers, .258 average versus average power/finesse pitchers, and a .296 average against finesse pitchers. With an increased number of high-velocity pitchers in the league, this certainly is a concern.

He also is not very athletic by any means. He is viewed as a below average defender at first base and his experiments playing the outfield have yielded rather poor results. If the designated hitter is around in the National League in 2021 this certainly helps Matt Adams as he would be a good candidate to see time in that position.

Throughout his career Adams has never signed a deal worth more than $4MM in average annual value and that will not change heading into 2021. He is coming off a very poor 2020 season with the Braves and could be a great bargain option for the Brewers.

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Odds are that with Adams, you know what to expect from him.  The Brewers would likely need to elect to move on from Vogelbach and sign another right-handed hitting first basement to platoon with Adams if they do indeed sign him this off-season.