Derrek Lee Signed For One Year

The Orioles have agreed to terms with 1B Derrek Lee on a one year contract worth $7.25 million with incentives that could make it as high as $10 million.

This is another great move this offseason by Andy MacPhail and it puts the finishing touches on our revamped infield. The Orioles plugged the holes at third base and shortstop relatively quickly with Mark Reynolds and JJ Hardy respectively but it seemed like first base was dragging on forever. Originally it seemed like we were close to a deal with Adam LaRoche on a three year deal but for whatever reason it never happened so we turned our attention to Lee and eventually a deal got done. Hes coming off a down year but theres not much downside to a one year contract. Last season Lee batted .260/.347/.428 with 35 doubles, 19 homeruns, and 80 RBI over 547 at bats between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. That alone would be a big upgrade over what the Orioles produced at first base in 2010 but the good news is that Lee’s stats improved after being traded to the Braves. He went from .251/.335/.416 with the Cubs to .287/.384/.465 with Atlanta. He also played all of last season with a torn ligament in his thumb which he had surgically repaired after the season ended. In 2009 he had the second best season of his career with a line of .306/.393/.579 with 36 doubles, 2 triples, 35 homeruns, and 111 RBI. Hes 35 years old so you can’t count on him getting back to that level but I think its fair to look for an OPS around .850 like he had after being traded to the Braves last year. He should be healthy entering spring training and motivated to prove last year was a fluke. He’ll be a free agent again after 2011 so it would do him well to put up a good season so he can cash in on one more multiyear contract. We can also offer arbitration after the season in this case to either get an extra draft pick or two, or have him accept for another reasonable one year contract. Hes also a very good defensive first baseman so our infield will be improved both offensively and defensively. Patience, power, and defense – what more can you ask for from your first baseman? He might not be the long term solution for our franchise but on a one year deal I think its the best we could’ve possibly done.

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