Finally, the Orioles have gotten a first baseman. We can all relax ... for now.
They announced this afternoon that they have signed Derrek Lee to a one-year deal.
From the Baltimore Sun: The Orioles are close to knocking off a big item from their offseason wish list as they have agreed to terms with free agent first baseman Derrek Lee, according to sources.Roch Kubatko from MASN Sports has more.
The deal is pending a physical and the terms of the deal aren’t currently known, but Lee’s camp has made it clear that the veteran was content with a one-year pact worth between $8 and $10 million that would allow him to improve his value in anticipation of becoming a free agent again next offseason.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail declined comment.
Lee, a 35-year-old veteran of 14 big league seasons, batted .260 with 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 148 combined games for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves in 2010. However, he played all season with a torn ligament in his right thumb, an injury that he sustained on Opening Day and is believed to have contributed to his decline in power numbers.
The season before, Lee, who had surgery on the thumb early last month and is expected to be ready for spring training, batted .306 with 35 homers and 111 RBIs in 141 games for the Cubs in 2009, and finished in the top 10 in National League Most Valuable Player voting.
A two-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner, Lee is a career .282 hitter.
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Lee was lukewarm with the idea of signing with the Orioles earlier this offseason, but the number of teams with first base vacancies has dwindled. The Orioles also appeared to be focused on signing Adam LaRoche, but talks with him reached an impasse over the free agent’s insistence on a three-year deal.
Once again, Andy MacPhail has signed a former Cub; however, if Lee can pick up his career after a poor 2010 and bounce back to what he was as a hitter, it will be a boon for Baltimore.
Although the Orioles have had some issues with guys coming off sub-par seasons - um, Garrett Atkins anyone -- I think Lee, combined with Camden Yards being a hitters park, and simply being a solid professional should help out the team in the lineup.
More importantly (if he's healthy and has not seen that big of a diminish in his skills), he serve as a middle-of-order offensive bat. I do believe his experience will also help him to be a mentor to youngsters like Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters.
He's certainly not known as a fiery guy, or a fire and brimstone type, but he will probably serve as a leader on the squad.
The Orioles may not be in the hunt for the big-name free agents due to their-decade plus losing spell, but they got a potentially good slugger with Lee.