Maybe “big free agent signing” should be in quotes? Anyway, the Indians have signed 1B Casey Kotchman to a deal, according to Jon Heyman on Twitter. It doesn’t seem like the terms of the deal are out there yet, but I’ll add them when I see them.
EDIT: Paul Hoynes reports that the deal is for one year, $3 million and incentives.
At the series of Tribe on Tour stops last weekend, Manny Acta mentioned that he still wanted Chris Antonetti to sign a hitter for the team. I guess Kotchman qualifies as a hitter.
I shouldn’t be quite so down on Kotchman, as he had a great 2011 season with Tampa Bay, hitting .306/.378/.422 with 10 home runs. I guess the reason for my negativity is that Kotchman’s career numbers are .268/.336/.398 and the 10 home runs was the first time he’d been in double digits for home run totals since 2008. His 2010 numbers were so bad (.217/.280/.336) that Tampa only signed him to a minor league deal with a spring training invite last season (like half of the players that will be in camp with the Indians). Once Manny Ramirez “retired” after he was busted for steroids, Kotchman was called up from Triple-A to take his place. Based on his numbers from last year, this would be a great deal for the Tribe. I just feel like 2011 was an anomaly, more than something we should come to expect from Kotchman.
One positive – Kotchman is pretty solid defensively. He has decent UZR ratings on Fangraphs and has never made more than 3 errors in an entire season (I’ve probably jinxed him for about 12 errors at this point).
I guess I’ll probably reserve a full opinion on this until I see the terms of the deal. If this is one of those low-cost, low-risk deals, then it’s not the most terrible signing. Kotchman is left-handed though, so this still doesn’t really address the Indians’ need for a right-handed power bat. Out of the remaining free agents, I’d rather have Derrek Lee. However, if it’s true that he’s willing to retire if he doesn’t get his preferred contract, he probably wants more than the Indians are willing to spend.
In other news:
The Indians came to terms with Rafael Perez today for $2.005 million on a one-year deal. Perez initially asked for $2.4 million and the Indians offered $1.6 million, so this deal ended up being right in the middle. Asdrubal Cabrera remains the only unsigned player at this point.