Astros rumors: Searching the National League for first base targets

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors are all fine and well, but let's comb through rosters to see which guys might be available.

There's something about rumors that seems so intangible. Maybe its the fact that they're literally intangible, no more than whispers in the hallways of power instead of cold, hard facts.

In an effort to combat the rumors that Houston is searching for first base candidates specifically focused in the NL East, here's a look at first base candidates in the entire National League. Thursday, we'll do the same for the American League to see if we find any probable targets that make more sense than the current Houston roster.

First up, the National League East:

Atlanta

Probable starter: Freddie Freeman

Other names: Mark Hamilton

Miami

Probable starter: Garrett Jones

Other names: Greg Dobbs, Ty Wigginton

New York Mets

Probable starter: Ike Davis

Other names: Lucas Duda, Brandon Allen, Matt Clark

Philadelphia

Probable starter: Ryan Howard

Other names: John Mayberry, Jr., Kevin Frandsen

Washington

Probable starter: Adam LaRoche

Other names: Tyler Moore, Brock Peterson

The funny thing about the NL East is it seems there are at least two starters who could be had for the right price. Don't you think the Phillies would flip Ryan Howard in a heartbeat if Houston took on most of that contract? Not that they would, mind you, but it seems that Howard is available.

Ditto Ike Davis. Seems the Mets would trade him if the right deal came along, but they'd also start him if no deal presents itself. The intriguing non-roster name with them is Brandon Allen, who hasn't hit in four big-league trials, but could be waived by the end of the spring. Plus, he's a lefty, so he fits into a platoon with Guzman.

Am I also correct in saying no one wants a return engagement with Ty Wigginton?

Onto the NL Central, a surprisingly sparse division for first basemen.

Chicago Cubs

Probable starter: Anthony Rizzo

Other names: None

Cincinnati

Probable starter: Joey Votto

Other names: Neftali Soto

Milwaukee

Probable starter: Juan Francisco

Other names: Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay

Pittsburgh

Probable starter: Gaby Sanchez

Other names: None

St. Louis

Probable starter: Matt Adams

Other names: Allen Craig, Xavier Scruggs

Oh, this is where we break Sean's heart. No way the Cards trade Adams for less than a hefty haul, which is not a price Luhnow would be willing to pay. So, he's out. Ditto Craig and every other starter here.

Plus, the NL Central has two of the most unsettled first base situations in the league. Both the Brewers and Pirates are still searching for starters at the position. Or, more accurately, they're searching for upgrades on the starters they have.

While Neftali Soto has some intriguing upside, being blocked by Votto and possessing some power, he doesn't really profile into this team's blueprint. He doesn't walk a ton, doesn't have huge power and strikes out a fair amount. That sounds like late-career Carlos Lee to me.

No, the guy who really is fascinating is Xavier Scruggs, who was a non-roster invitee of the Cardinals this season. Drafted in the 19th round out of UNLV in 2008, Scruggs would be a Luhnow guy who's a little old to be a prospect. He's already 25 and hasn't played above Double-A.  But, Scruggs does walk a ton and has really nice power.

The problem is that if Houston wanted to hand the keys over to a prospect who might not be ready, they might as well promote Jon Singleton. Also, Scruggs bats from the right side, so he couldn't platoon with Guzman.

Finally, the NL West:

Arizona

Probable starter: Paul Goldschmidt

Other names: Matt Tuiasosopo, Nick Evans, Mike Jacobs

Colorado

Probable starter: Justin Morneau

Other names: Ben Paulson

LA Dodgers

Probable starter: Adrian Gonzalez

Other names: Scott Van Slyke, Clint Robinson

San Diego

Probable starter: Yonder Alonso

Other names: Kyle Blanks, Tommy Medica, Cody Decker

San Francisco

Probable starter: Brandon Belt

Other names: Mike Morse, Jeff Arnold

Ahh, remember when Houston was "in" on some of the guys in the NL, like Mike Morse? Those were the days. Now, they're lucky to scrounge someone half as good as Morse or Corey Hart for a steeper price.

Still, there's some good depth here. The Diamondbacks seem like they'll lose a first baseman or two off their roster or non-roster invite list before the spring is done. Anyone up for Mike Jacobs? Nope, didn't think so.

I've always been high on Kyle Blanks, but at this point, he seems like a less successful Chris Carter. No thanks. Tommy Medica would also be a nice pickup, but he has little high-level experience and the Padres probably want to hang onto a young guy like that, unless Houston traded them a big-league piece.

Other than the names we discussed on Tuesday, the only ones that stand out here are guys like Mike Jacobs or Scruggs. Jacobs is at least a left-hander and could be waived at the end of the spring, thus being free to acquire by the top waiver position Astros. But, waiting on a team to waive a guy leaves the position perilously thin in the meantime.

Anyone on this list you'd like to see Houston get? Anyone stand out from the crowd? Anyone better than Houston's current group?

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