Friday, December 31, 2010

Orioles Agree to One Year Deal with Derrek Lee

UPDATE (12/31/2010 at 4:51 p.m.):  Jon Heyman reports that Lee's deal will be for $8M.  This report is unconfirmed, so stay tuned.

Original Post (12/31/2010 at 4:07 p.m.):  The Orioles finally landed a free agent.

Dan Connely of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Derrek Lee have come to terms on a one year contract.  While the terms of the contract have not been disclosed, Lee was rumored to be looking for a contract between $8-10M. 

As I mentioned about a week ago, Lee is a better option for the Orioles than LaRoche.  Instead of paying for three years of average offensive production from LaRoche, they get one season of low-risk, high-reward production out of Lee.  Yes, Lee had a down year in 2010, but there are encouraging signs he could rebound in a big way in 2011.  Lee still has above average power (54 XBH in 2010), good patience at the plate (11.7% walk rate), makes solid contact (22.5% line drive rate versus 1.3% pop-up rate), and plays average to above average defense at his position (2.1 UZR).  All things considered, Lee should be worth 2.7-3.0 WAR in 2011, which would make his theoretical $8-10M salary a huge bargain.

With the Orioles out of the running, LaRoche appears destined (or resigned, depending on how you look at it) to signing with the Nationals.  Unless he can get another team like the Rays involved in the negotiations, LaRoche will probably get stuck with signing a one-year deal for the second season in a row.

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