Thursday, December 17, 2009

Orioles Add 3B Garrett Atkins to the Fold

The Warehouse has been busy with their holiday shopping this December. Shortly after news of the signing of RP Mike Gonzalez comes word that the Orioles have reportedly signed former Rockies third baseman Garret Atkins for a one-year deal.

Third base was a big hole that the Orioles needed to fill this offseason but outside of Chone Figgins and Adrian Beltre, the list of free agents was a flawed group. The candidates were either aging, inury risks, couldn't hit, couldn't field or some combination of these. Atkins is no different.

Atkins was once a promising young hitter for Colorado but last year he managed a meager .226/.308/.342 line, losing his starting job. He also has big home/away splits, hitting far worse away from Coors Field for his career (.892 OPS at home, .735 OPS away). Add the fact that he's not a particularly good fielding third basemen in terms of UZR and you have to wonder why Atkins was appealing to Baltimore at all.

I can find three encouraging things about Atkins. The first, he has played third and first before. If either Josh Bell or Brandon Snyder proves ready to play in Baltimore, he can slide to the other corner.

Second, he wears out lefties. Even through his struggles last season, he OPS'ed .790 against southpaws. He could come in handy against the likes of C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, John Lester, Andy Pettite and David Price as the Orioles make their way through the Al East.

Third, his BABIP last season was just .247 so he is a decent candidate to improve on his numbers from last year.

It's only a one-year deal so whatever they are paying him can come off the books in 2011. He's a stop gap and he's no better or worse than the rest of the free agent lot. Nothing wrong with this signing at all but nothing to get excited about.

edit: Looks like the contract is for $4.5 million for 2009 with a club option (worth $8.5 million...what?!?!) for 2011. There's NO WAY Atkins will be good enough to get that option picked up, so call this a 1 year, $5 million deal ($4.5 mil plus $500,000 buyout). It's fine for one season.

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