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MLB rumors: Athletics, Rangers interested in Chris Carter

Could last year’s NL home run king resurrect his career with a new team?

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports, the Athletics and Rangers are two teams who have expressed interest in free agent Chris Carter, who was released by the Yankees on Monday after being designated for assignment twice in a 12-day span. It’s unclear whether Carter would have to accept a minor-league deal or immediately receive an opportunity to join an MLB club.

Carter, 30, struggled in pinstripes, hitting .201/.284/.370 with eight homers in 208 plate appearances. The Yankees’ decision to sign him to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million in February was a bit odd to begin with, as the Yankees already had Greg Bird at first base and Matt Holliday at DH. Carter seemed to have trouble dealing with inconsistent playing time, and while both Bird and Holliday eventually ended up on the disabled list, manager Joe Girardi clearly wasn’t a big fan of Carter and sat him as catcher-turned-first baseman Austin Romine and rookie Tyler Austin received reps at first.

While he has some obvious flaws—he strikes out quite a bit, is somewhat stiff defensively, and has never been a great contact hitter—Carter possesses great power. Last year, he hit 41 homers over 160 games for the Brewers, which tied him with Nolan Arenado for the National League lead.

Oakland would be a very interesting landing spot for Carter, as he was in the A’s organization from 2008-12, making his major-league debut with them in 2010. While adding Carter would seem to go against the youth movement that has inspired the Athletics to cut solid, affordable veterans like Trevor Plouffe and Stephen Vogt in recent weeks, it’s easy to see him becoming the next of Oakland’s buy-low, sell-high transformation projects.

Carter seems to fit the mold of what the Rangers like in their first basemen and designated hitters, though there may not be much playing time available for him. Veteran Mike Napoli began the year as the Rangers’ primary first baseman with Shin-Soo Choo as the club’s main DH. But since Adrian Beltre returned from a calf injury on May 29, Joey Gallo has shifted over from third and gotten the bulk of the starts at first with Napoli spending more time on the bench. Napoli (.203/.278/.468 slash line with 20 homers) and Gallo (.192/.311/.504 with 21 home runs) are similar to Carter, so it’s not as if signing him would really do much to shake up the Rangers’ lineup. It’s worth noting that Napoli can become a free agent at the end of this season, so he could be a trade candidate if Texas is trying to dump his salary at the deadline (or in August for that matter, as he’d likely clear waivers).

With the way that several first basemen—including Justin Smoak, Mark Reynolds, and Logan Morrison—have recently transformed from one-tool sluggers into complete hitters in their late 20s and early 30s, it makes all the sense in the world for a team to take a chance on Carter. At the very worst, he’s got the ability to contribute just like Gallo and Napoli do, hitting a ton of home runs and getting on base despite his low batting average.