Garrett Atkins Rumors

Pirates Release Garrett Atkins

The Pirates released infielder Garrett Atkins, reports Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The 31-year-old veteran had been competing for the team's backup corner infield job with Andy Marte, Steve Pearce, and Josh Fields after signing a minor league deal in December.  All along, the expectation was that Atkins would either make the team or become a free agent.

In 17 Spring Training games this year, Atkins hit .129/.182/.290 in 33 plate appearances.  His last useful season was 2008, so he'll probably have to crush Triple-A pitching to earn another shot in the Majors.


Non-Roster Notes: Chavez, Stairs, Atkins

As we cruise through Spring Training and gear up for Opening Day, let's take a look at some news on some notable non-roster invitees around the league…


Padres’, Pirates’ Notable Non-Roster Invitees

The Padres and Pirates have announced their Spring Training non-roster invitees, write MLB.com's Corey Brock and Jenifer Langosch, respectively.

Among San Diego's 20 NRIs is a small handful of players with big-league experience and a decent chance of making the 25-man roster at the end of Spring Training. Here's a quick look at some of those guys:

  • Kevin Frandsen has spent parts of five seasons with the Giants and Angels, and he has a "good shot" of catching on with the Padres as a utility man, according to Brock. The 28-year-old plays multiple positions and would earn a salary of $575,000.
  • Guillermo Quiroz could challenge Rob Johnson for the backup catching job, notes Brock. Quiroz, 29, has played for four teams (Rangers, Blue Jays, Mariners and Orioles) in parts of seven seasons.
  • Gregorio Petit spent parts of two seasons with the A's as a utility infielder in 2008-09. The 26-year-old spent the entirety of 2010 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate.
  • Bullpen hopefuls Luis Perdomo and Scott Munter each have Major League experience. Perdomo made 35 appearances with San Diego in 2009 but only one last season, and Munter was with the Giants for parts of three seasons.

The Pirates, meanwhile, have a slightly more interesting cast of notable names:

  • Garrett Atkins, Jeff Clement, Josh Fields and Andy Marte form a quartet of one-time blue-chip prospects. Atkins, in particular, was an above-average player for the Rockies in 2006-07, but he declined quickly in the following years. Clement, a former catcher, was a No. 3 overall pick of the Mariners in 2005, and Fields and Marte were raw-power corner-infield prospects coming up with the White Sox and Braves/Indians, respectively.
  • On the pitching side, Tyler Yates has a 8.1 K/9 for his career but did not pitch in the bigs in 2010. Donald Veal, selected by the Bucs from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2009 season, is a hard-throwing but wild lefty. Brian Burres has started 54 games in his five-year career with the Orioles, Blue Jays and Pirates. Sean Gallagher was dealt from the Cubs to the A's in the deal that sent Rich Harden to Chicago, and has appeared in 91 games. Fernando Nieve has appeared in 99 games (19 starts) with the Astros and Mets in parts of four seasons.


Contract Details: Saito, Beltre, Capuano, Hudson

Here are some recent updates on contracts from around the majors:


New Look For Pirates’ Bench

There are always many ways for 105-loss teams to improve and last year's Pittsburgh Pirates are no exception. GM Neal Huntington has signed starting pitchers (Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen) and a pair of bats (Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz), but he’s also working to improve the Pirates' bench.

The team has cut ties with Andy LaRoche, Delwyn Young, Akinori Iwamura and Bobby Crosby, a group that was well below average in 2010. WAR, a stat which measures a player’s overall on-field contribution, suggests those four players combined to produce two wins less than replacement players would have mustered. The Pirates may have had more pressing needs this offseason, but their bench had to be revamped.

Last week, the team made two acquisitions that will give manager Clint Hurdle more options in Spring Training. Garrett Atkins, a player who’s familiar with Hurdle from their days in Colorado, and former A’s farmhand Corey Wimberly are now members of the Pirates organization.

Atkins will compete for a corner utility job and Huntington says Wimberly will also be a candidate to back up the likes of Ronny Cedeno, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez on the infield.

“We traded for Wimberly because his defensive versatility and speed makes him a quality role player with some upside for more,” Huntington told MLBTR. 

Wimberly should be able to handle a number of roles. The 27-year-old switch hitter played ten or more games as a center fielder, left fielder, shortstop, second baseman and third baseman at Triple-A last year. In the process, he batted .284/.373/.354, led the Pacific Coast League in stolen bases (56 SB) and walked (58 BB) nearly as much as he struck out (64 K). 

But Wimberly and Atkins will have competition this Spring. Rule 5 pick Josh Rodriguez is about as versatile as Wimberly. The former Indians prospect played all three outfield positions and every infield position but first base in the upper minors last year, batting .297/.378/.484.

Pedro Ciriaco, a product of the deal that brought Chris Snyder to Pittsburgh, could also win a big league job. The 25-year-old middle infielder hasn’t showed the same offensive promise as Wimberly or Rodriguez (.265/.281/.387 Triple-A line last year), but he did appear in eight big league games in 2010.

Like Atkins, who has a .294/.379/.467 line against lefties in his career, Steve Pearce can handle southpaws. The powerful first baseman/right fielder has a .304/.372/.557 line against left-handed pitching as a major leaguer. He’ll likely compete with Atkins to make the team as a corner infielder who can spell Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez, two starters who bat from the left side.

Andy Marte and Josh Fields both have extensive big league experience at third base and could contribute off the bench in 2011. Neither player hit much last year, but the two former top prospects have played first base as well as at the hot corner.

These seemingly minor acquisitions are important ones for a team that could have used considerably more production off the bench in 2010. There are no guarantees for Atkins, who struggled mightily in 2010 or the others, who have not had extended big league success. But these additions could transform the Pirates' bench from significantly below average to respectable.


Pirates Sign Garrett Atkins

The Pirates announced that they signed Garrett Atkins to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training. He'll earn $800K in the major leagues, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Agent Jeff Blank represents Atkins.

The Orioles signed Atkins after the Rockies non-tendered him last offseason, but the O's released him in July. Atkins batted .214/.276/.286 in 152 plate appearances last year and saw his home run total dip for a fourth consecutive season.

If the signing works out, Atkins could spell first baseman Lyle Overbay against lefties. Overbay has a career .279/.375/.463 line against right-handers and Atkins has a career .294/.379/.467 line against southpaws, so there's a potential platoon fit here. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez also bats from the left side, so the Pirates could rest him against left-handers and play Atkins at the hot corner.

Atkins can play both corner infield positions, though most of his big league experience comes at third base. He will play under Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle, who managed him in Colorado. 


Odds & Ends: Greinke, Ryan, Jeter, Atkins, Garza

On this date two years ago, the Tigers sent Matt Joyce to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. It's been a busy couple of years for Jackson, who has bounced from Detroit to Arizona to Chicago, twirling a no-hitter along the way. Here are today's links…


Five Non-Tenders That Shaped The 2010 Pennant Race

Some non-tendered players end up performing like stars in new cities, but the best contract offer possible is sometimes the one a team doesn't make. Here's a look at five players who were non-tendered last year and impacted the 2010 pennant race:

  • Matt Capps – Capps has been excellent in 24 appearances for the Twins since coming over in a deal that sent catching prospect Wilson Ramos to Washington. The Pirates non-tendered Capps last December and the Twins and Nationals profit because of Pittsburgh's decision.
  • Dustin Moseley – Hey, he's pitched 60.1 innings for one of the best teams in baseball and even stepped into a starting role when Andy Pettitte went down. The Angels’ decision to non-tender Moseley isn’t necessarily one they would like to do over, but the swingman has added value for the Bronx Bombers, posting a 4.77 ERA so far.
  • Jonny Gomes – The Reds non-tendered Gomes only to re-sign him later in the offseason. The left fielder has a .761 OPS and 17 homers for the playoff-bound Reds.
  • Garrett Atkins – The Rockies guaranteed the combination of Melvin Mora, Jason Giambi and Miguel Olivo less than it would have cost to retain Atkins through arbitration. Instead of paying Atkins more than $7MM, GM Dan O'Dowd wisely non-tendered him and spent on other needs.
  • Kelly JohnsonOmar Infante and Martin Prado have produced well, so the decision to non-tender Johnson didn't necessarily hurt the Braves. Still, we can say with confidence that this year's Braves team would have seemed much different with more of Johnson (25 homers and .860 OPS in Arizona) and less of Prado and Infante.

Odds & Ends: Hudson, Mets, Arroyo, Atkins

As major league teams unveil their 2011 schedules, here are some news items….

  • As Daniel Hudson improves to 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA as a Diamondback tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that Hudson "probably" could have been a Brewer had Milwaukee accepted a one-for-one offer from Chicago for Prince Fielder.  The problem at the time was that the Brewers projected Hudson as only a third or fourth starter and wanted more for their slugger.  Obviously hindsight is 20/20 on any missed trade, but if Hudson continues to pitch well in Arizona, it will put even more pressure on the Brewers to get a big return back if they do end up dealing Fielder.
  • An anonymous NL official tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that Jose Reyes could command "one really good prospect, one solid prospect, and one or two medium-range prospects" in a trade should the Mets put their shortstop on the market this winter.  This source seems in favor of a total rebuild for the Mets; he also thinks they should try to deal David Wright and Francisco Rodriguez.
  • Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News cites Bronson Arroyo's durability, consistent win totals and veteran presence as reasons why Cincinnati should pick up the right-hander's $11MM option for next season.
  • We've heard that the Rockies will look for a right-handed first baseman to platoon with Todd Helton next season, and ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill cites former Rockie Garrett Atkins as a possibility for the role.  Atkins was non-tendered by Colorado last winter and after signing a one-year contract with Baltimore, was released by the Orioles last July.
  • Interim Arizona GM Jerry Dipoto will interview for the full-time position tomorrow, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (Twitter link).
  • Any Boston fans tickled by A.J. Burnett's struggles this season might not want to crow too much, since Fangraphs' Joe Pawlikowski cites Burnett as comparable to the also-struggling John Lackey.
  • Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders if the Red Sox might pursue Jim Thome as a cheaper free agent DH option rather than pick up David Ortiz's 2011 option.
  • Travis Buck's "organizational status is clearly at an all-time low" in Oakland, writes Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com.  Buck is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and could be non-tendered given the number of other promising outfielders in the Athletics' system.
  • If Jesus Montero can develop a solid catching glove to go along with his powerful bat, the Mariners may regret passing on New York's Montero-centered offer for Cliff Lee, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
  • Blogger El Lefty Malo praises the Giants' acquisition of Cody Ross and some other recent Brian Sabean moves.
  • Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks the Halos just need a "tweaking" rather than an overhaul in the winter, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says upgrading the infield should be a top priority for the Cardinals in the offseason.

Orioles Release Garrett Atkins

JULY 6th: Atkins has cleared waivers and been released by the Orioles, making him a free agent, reports Connolly.

JUNE 27th: The Orioles have officially designated Atkins for assignment, reports Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. The move clears a spot for Uehara to be activated from the disabled list. Atkins told Ghiroli earlier this weekend that he wouldn't look at it as a bad thing if the O's decide to release him.

JUNE 24th: Baltimore will likely designate Garrett Atkins for assignment, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.  The O's must free up two spots on the 25-man roster in order to welcome back Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara.

Atkins has been disappointing so far this season, hitting .219/.282/.292 with one homer in 149 plate appearances.  The 30-year-old inked a one-year, $4.5MM deal with the O's over the winter.  Baltimore's acquisition of Jake Fox on Tuesday was a sign that Atkins' time in orange and black was nearing an end.

To clear the second spot, the Orioles could either demote Frank Mata to Triple-A or designate fellow reliever Matt Albers for assignment. Seldom used fourth outfielder Lou Montanez could also be shown the door, though he will likely be kept until Felix Pie returns from the disabled list.