Derrek Lee has agreed to go to the American League for the first time in his career when he signed a 1-year deal with the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles pending a physical. Dollars have not come out to the public just yet but it seems to be worth about $8-$11 million. The Orioles have been in contact with Lee for most of the off season but had been mainly linked to other first baseman Adam LaRoche and the Nationals had seemed to be the favorites to snag Lee until recently when the two team switched interests at basically the same time and thus Lee is now with Baltimore. Which means that the Nationals are likely to land LaRoche.
Lee had a down year (by his standards) in 2010 and after a slow start, he was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Atlanta Braves (while the two teams were in the middle of the a series!)on August 18 for three minor league pitchers: right handers Robinson Lopez and Tyrelle Harris and left-hander Jeffrey Lorick.
In 475 PA with Chicago, Lee had a line of .251/.335/.416 with 16 homers and in 151 PA in Atlanta, his line was .287/.384/.465 but only hit 3 home runs. His ISO was .168, still above average, but in 2010, it was .273. His plate discipline stats look average all the way down the line for his career except his O-Contact% which was 60.5% in 2009 and 65.6% in 2010. So even though his BABIP (.306 in 2010) shows that he was not getting unlucky, his O-Contact% suggests that he was indeed getting unlucky and ended up beating balls into the ground. But also his strike-out rate was up from 2009 (20.5%) and in 2010 it was 24.5%. He saw 4.24 P/PA which is outstanding but that is out of line compared to previous seasons: 2009: 3.95; 2008: 3.95; 2007: 4.02.
So consider this: he struck out more often then usual but in the process, he swung at pitches out of the zone more often and thus fouling them off which means that he saw more pitches in any given plate appearances then in previous years. Espn.com tells us that when he gets behind in the count, he does poorly and he got behind in the count quite often in 2010 mainly because of the amount pitches that he fouled off.
Keep in mind that he had a sore back later in the season and so that could be why he only had 3 homers with Atlanta. The wrist that he had surgery on in 2006 is a non-issue when he proved that it was healed when he smashed 35 home runs in 2009.
I think that is going to be an adjustment period for him since he is moving to the AL East, let alone, it's the first time that he will be playing in the American League. But at least he doesn't have to face the Phillies pitching.
Expect somewhere around a .265-.280/.355/.425 line with around 25 home runs. But his impact will not be that big being that he's only in Baltimore for a year. Lee is basically done with his prime but still a lot left in the tank. He is 35 years old and will turning 36 in September.
OTHER SIGNINGS: In another notable signing, the Boston Red Sox re-signed reliever Hideki Okajima to a 1-year deal. He is 35 years of age.
(Statistics in courtesy of: espn.com, fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com)