Sep 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez (9) drives in a run with a single during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Option # 4: Marwin Gonzalez/Preston Tucker platoon
A Marwin Gonzalez/Preston Tucker platoon would be another, though unlikely, direction if the Astros decide to move on from Carter. The defense would improve and allow more flexibility in the infield when it comes to defensive strategy with Gonzalez. Tucker would provide some pop in the lineup from first base to help offset the drop of power from Carter’s absence. In fact, Gonzalez and Tucker hit a combined 25 HR and 67 RBI in 2015, so from an offensive standpoint that is not a terrible proposition.
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But it isn’t a secret that the Astros desire Gonzalez to play multiple positions considering his glove and the fact that his limited ceiling at the plate would hinder the lineup as the primary first baseman. And Tucker did not once played first base at the major league level in 2015, so it remains to be seen if the Astros view the 25-year old as a viable, albeit temporary, solution at the position. The Astros front office could still view Tucker more as a fourth or fifth outfielder and the occasional designated hitter instead as part of a potential platoon at first base.
And let’s be honest, if this platoon actually takes place, this would be a temporary band-aid until A.J. Reed is deemed ready to assume first base responsibilities. But odds are this is one of the last resorts for the Astros in 2016.
Regardless of what avenue the Astros pursue in the offseason, the fact remains that first base production needs to be improved. If that means from inside the organization, or even outside, is left to be seen. However, this isn’t a dearth of options available to the organization heading into 2016, but which route will the team take is still unknown.
This is shaping to be one of the most interesting position battles heading into the upcoming Spring Training. Oh Astros baseball, you still give us plenty to talk about even in the midst of the holiday season.