No team wants to collect first basemen, but the Seattle Mariners have managed to do just that over the off-season, although at least a few of them are athletic enough to play other positions in a pinch.
Branyan is a left-handed hitter who once hit 20 home runs in a season, although that season was 2001. Power isn’t the issue. Health and strikeouts, those are issues. Branyan hasn’t played as many as 100 games in a year in the majors since that 2001 season.
LaHair is 26, about the stage where major league scouts figure if you haven’t made it you’re probably not going to. Infielders like his play at first, and he’s a gap hitter who spent his off-season dealing with a herniated disc.
Shelton, 28, is a right-handed hitter without much power, and his best chance to make the team is as a platoon player against left-handed pitchers. In 904 big-league at bats, he’s a .274 hitter with 37 home runs and 120 RBI.
So there you have the candidates, and here’s the probabilities:
The real issue is whether the team, with 12 pitchers and a reserve catcher, even has room on the roster for a fulltime backup to Branyan. If they do, does it make sense to have another left-handed hitter? Probably not.
So pencil in Branyan. Keep Morse. And watch Carp, who most likely has the best future of the group.