I wouldn’t say that the Milwaukee Brewers non-tendering Chris Carter "sent shockwaves" through Major League Baseball, but it certainly gave us all something to talk about in the dog days of late November. The National League’s leading home run hitter a year ago is now team-less, instead being paid a mere nine to ten million dollars.
Carter hit a whopping 41 home runs last season, tops in the NL and the most he has personally hit in his seven-year MLB career. His slugging percentage finished at .499 — second highest in his career, he played in 160 games, and he had an above-average 11.8 percent walk rate. That’s about everything good I can find about Carter right now.
While the 29-year-old certainly has power, he strikes out a ton. If you thought watching Mike Napoli swing and miss in the second half of 2016 was bad, it would be worse with Carter. Carter finished last season with a 32.0 percent strikeout rate, which is actually kind of low, given his 33.1 percent career rate.
Few batters make harder contact than Chris Carter, but many have better results. His low batting average and on-base percentage (despite a not-horrible walk rate) are symptoms of too many balls ending up on the ground and not enough line drives as much as they are of too many strikeouts.
Given his downward-trending defensive skills at first base, Carter would likely see more time as a designated hitter on the Cleveland Indians, allowing Carlos Santana more time at first base as the lesser of two evils. In a lot of ways, signing Carter would be like last year’s Napoli signing, only without the added value of "veteran leadership" or a bargain on a bounce-back veteran.
Considering the Brewers opted to let him go instead of paying $10 million (and then quickly signed Eric Thaymes to take his spot), the assumption would be that he would cost less than that. And, given that he is only 29, a multi-year deal probably is not out of the question. Some team is going to love Carter’s raw power for their DH slot, but I don’t anticipate it being the Indians.