UPDATE: Welp, shows you what I know. The Yankees have signed Carter.
9:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers checked in on free agent slugger Chris Carter. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Yankees are “keeping tabs” on him as well.
The Dodgers report seems odd given that they have Adrian Gonzalez, the NL has no DH, Carter has not played the outfield on anything approaching a regular basis for years and, even when he did, he wasn’t good at it. Add on the fact that the Dodgers are already over the luxury tax threshold, meaning that they’d pay a 50% tax on his salary, and their interest in Carter makes even less sense.
The Yankees are likewise an odd potential destination for Carter. The luxury tax considerations are the same. They signed Matt Holliday to be their DH. Their first base situation is devoted to the future, with Greg Bird and/or Tyler Austin covering it. As Crasnick notes, Carter could be insurance, but the value of such insurance to a team is likely far less than what Carter would agree to sign for.
It’s getting close to spring training and Carter, the reigning NL home run champ, is unemployed. I suspect that, rather than serious interest in him on the part of the Dodgers and Yankees, this is an instance in which his agent, Dave Stewart, is attempting to create the appearance of teams having interest in him.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.