Orioles Sign Gonzalez And Atkins

The Orioles have signed LHP Mike Gonzalez to a 2 year contract worth between $12 – 16 million. They also signed 3B/1B Garrett Atkins to a 1 year deal worth $4.5 million with a $8.5 million club option for 2011.

Grades –  Gonzalez: B, Atkins: C-

I like the Gonzalez signing. Hes a left handed pitcher with a 90-96 mph fastball and a nasty slider. He’ll come into spring training being the heavy favorite to win the closers role. He strikes out alot of batters, although he walks his fare share as well, and hes very good against left handed hitters. He’ll be a slightly better version of George Sherrill making approx. $7 million a year. In 2009 he pitched to a 5-4 record with a 2.42 ERA over 74.1 innings, striking out 90 batters, walking 33, and saving 10 games. He was a type A free agent so the Orioles will lose their second round pick to the Atlanta Braves, which I don’t think is too big of a deal since the club has shown the propensity to pay overslot for fallen talent. Gonzalez has had injury issues in the past and pitched a career high in innings last season, but hes closed in the past and should allow other pitchers like Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara to pitch in roles most helpful to the team. Its not a slam dunk signing, but we grabbed arguably the best reliever on the free agent market on a short term, mid level money contract.

The Atkins signing doesn’t excite me much at all, but there wasn’t much out there and it does have some upside. Atkins had a huge 2006 season with the bat, but hes declined significantly each year since then (.965 OPS in 2006, .853 in 2007, .780 in 2008) before bottoming out in 2009. He hit to a .226/308/.342 line with 12 doubles, 1 triple, 9 HR, and 48 RBI in 2009 (.650 OPS) despite playing half his games at hitter friendly Coors Field. Hes not known as a good fielder at third base and he won’t have the thin air to aid him in 2010. Maybe Terry Crowley can help him rediscover his hitting stroke and we’d have a bargain on our hands. We could play him at either third or first depending on who else we sign this offseason so theres some versatility there, plus we shouldn’t have any problem moving him or benching him if/when 3B Josh Bell and/or 1B Brandon Snyder are ready to come up to the majors. We won’t miss out on any big time corner infielders because of this deal as everyone on the market has their downsides. At least we got Atkins on a fairly cheap one year deal and if he bounces back to his old self we can retain his services for another year.

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