Somewhere along the line, the idea that the Jays could take a run at Prince Fielder (or to a lesser extent Albert Pujols) or could try to pry Joey Votto loose has evolved in the minds of Jays fans from a flight of fancy to an absolute necessity. We fear that even musing about those players has amped up Jays fans to a point where they can't help but be disappointed when none of those players come to Toronto in the offseason.
(And though we think that Alex Anthopoulos is a magical creature who makes the impossible occur with some regularity, we feel pretty comfortable saying that none of those guys will be Blue Jays anytime soon.)
But because we hate to see people disappointed, we offer up the following list of players who we think could be had at a minimal cost, and who could provide the Jays with a decent solution for a year or two at first base/DH, should they decide that Adam Lind is not the best option.
(For a point of reference going forward, Lind's numbers are: .297 OBP, .442 SLG, .739 OPS, and an offensive WAR of 0.4 according to Baseball Reference.)
Carlos Lee: Lee has a year left on his mega-deal with the Astros, worth $19 million. That's a lot of dough, but Houston might be just as happy to let it go for cheap, while the Jays wouldn't be locking themselves into anything onerous in the long term. Lee has posted a not-terrible .330 OBP to go with a .444 SLG this year, and has played 62 games at first with positive UZR numbers (for whatever they might be worth).
Todd Helton: The Rockies' first baseman is in the twilight of his career, having just turned 38. Still, he's managed to post an .859 OPS (.387 OBP/.472 SLG) this year, which slots him just ahead of Mark Teixeira in that "dumber" metric. He has three years left on his long term deal with Colorado, but at $4.9, $5.0 and $1.31 million through 2014, that's a very manageable number. With Ian Stewart looking to get another shot at a full-time big league job, the Rockies might be inclined to let their franchise's most beloved player go.
Carlos Pena: After signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs last off-season, Pena has battled back from slow start and is now putting up numbers that you'd pretty much expect from him (.355 OBP, .461 SLG, .816 OPS). Pena is represented by Scott Boras, so no one should expect a sweetheart of a deal to be forthcoming. But for a guy whose offensive WAR is at par with that of Ryan Howard (2.3), it wouldn't be a terrible idea to see if a reasonable one- or two-year deal isn't a possibility.
Logan Morrison: Morrison's probably better suited to play first base than the outfield. (We have lots of questions about UZR, but LoMo's -15.9 UZR/150 number for his career at least indicates that it's not all bouquets and fruit baskets out there.) His offensive year hasn't been as superb as one might have hoped (.328/.451/.779), but those are still better numbers than Lind's. Also, given the all the ruckus around him, his demotion and his outspoken defense of former batting guru (John Mallee, who was fired by Florida but subsequently hired by the Blue Jays to serve as a roaming instructor), it could be that he didn't have his full focus on the game. He's just 24, and we think he'd benefit from the proverbial change of scenery.
Adam Dunn: Is Adam Dunn really this bad? Does he really not like baseball? Is he really a guy who posts a .576 OPS? Whose uninspiring OBP (.295) is actually higher than his SLG (.285)? Given that over the three previous seasons, Dunn posted a cummulative .380 OBP/.526 SLG/.906 OPS, we be willing to bet on some sort of comeback, especially if he were given the chance to play the field again. Is that bet worth the $44 million remaining on Dunn's contract over the next three seasons? That's probably up for debate, but he'll certainly cost the Jays less than any of the other names being bandied about.
Was there anyone we missed? Any other 1B/DH types who the Jays should consider for next year and beyond? Drop us a line in the comments, and we'd love to hear your take.