Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman top list of Angels options at first base after Kendry Morales injury
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The Angels should have plenty of outside options to replace injured first baseman Kendry Morales, who suffered a lower left-leg fracture in a freak mishap while celebrating his walk-off grand slam on Saturday, and the two most attractive may be Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman.
Konerko, 34, is in the final year of a five-year, $60-million contract and is batting .256 with 14 home runs and 33 runs batted in for a White Sox team that is 21-28 and eight games out in the American League Central. He is a favorite of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia going back to their days in the Dodgers organization, and the Angels made a strong push to sign him as a free agent before 2006.
Berkman, 34, is in the final year of a six-year, $85-million contract that includes a $15-million option for 2011 with a $2-million buyout, but he has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt to a contender. He is batting .235 with five homers and 15 RBIs for an Astros club that is 16-33 and in last place in the National League Central.
The problem for the Angels is that, with other teams knowing they will be desperate to add a middle-of-the-order bat, the Angels will have little leverage in trade negotiations and might have to wait until closer to the July 31 trade deadline, when asking prices usually come down, to make a deal.
The Angels also don’t have many high-end prospects, especially in the upper levels of their farm system, so the caliber of player they trade for probably will hinge on how much they are willing to deplete their farm system for a first baseman they might only need for this season.
Among the other possible trade targets for the Angels are Washington first baseman Adam Dunn (.260, 10 homers, 23 RBIs), Cleveland first baseman Russell Branyan (.253, six homers, 13 RBIs) and Arizona first baseman Adam LaRoche (.270, seven homers, 32 RBIs). There is a chance Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder (.268, seven homers, 19 RBIs) might be available.
Dunn is in the final year of a two-year, $20-million contract that pays him $12 million this season, Fielder is in the final year of a two-year, $18-million contract and makes $10.5 million this season, and LaRoche makes $6 million this year.
Some low-cost options are unsigned free agent Jermaine Dye, an outfielder who has played some first base; veteran journeyman Ryan Garko, who was recently designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers and is at triple-A Oklahoma City; and veteran first baseman Carlos Delgado, who hopes to return to baseball in June after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his hip.
Though Robb Quinlan is expected to be recalled from triple-A to serve as an immediate stopgap for Morales, who was batting .290 with a team-leading 11 homers and 39 RBIs, the top in-house candidate to replace Morales is probably Mark Trumbo, who is batting .275 with a .320 on-base percentage, a Pacific Coast League-leading 11 home runs and 40 RBIs.
But there is some question whether the 24-year-old Trumbo, who has 40 strikeouts and 11 walks in 182 at-bats, is ready to handle big-league pitching. Reserve outfielder Michael Ryan and catcher Bobby Wilson can also play first base, as can Brandon Wood, who is on the disabled list because of a hip injury.
-- Mike DiGiovanna