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News » Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-01-29


Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-01-29


Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch 2009-01-29
Among the 46 players who exchanged salary figures with their clubs, only two filed for a higher amount than Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins.

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is seeking $18 million, and before he agreed to a two-year, $18 million contract, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder filed for $8 million.

Atkins is seeking $7.95 million.

The 29-year-old infielder, who can be a free agent after 2010, was offered $6.65 million by the Rockies after making $4.44 million last season. Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd discussed a long-term contract after the 2006 season with Atkins and agent Jeff Blank, but they turned down the club's deal.

Atkins moved to first base in last July, replacing injured Todd Helton, and he provides insurance at that position until the Rockies are certain Helton, who underwent arthroscopic back surgery Sept. 30, can hold up to the rigors of the season.

The Rockies also have Ian Stewart to play third base, something he did when Atkins switched positions last year. But in the absence of Matt Holliday, Atkins gives the Rockies a much-needed right-handed bat in the their lineup. Still, it appears any chance of the Rockies and Atkins entering into a long-term deal has passed, particularly with the economy in decline.

"I'm not saying we won't have multiyear discussions, but I'm not sure we're going to have them with a player of this category with what it's going to cost and with the economy the way it is and the uncertainty of what's happening," O'Dowd said. "That'd be a tough commitment."

If the Rockies end up in a hearing with Atkins, it would be their first with a position player and just the fourth in club history. In 2002, they lost to reliever Dennys Reyes, who asked for $900,000 and was offered $700,000. In 2006, the Rockies beat reliever Sun-Woo Kim ($800,000 asked, $600,000 offered) and last year beat reliever Brian Fuentes ($6 million asked, $5.05 million offered).

The Rockies ($6.65 million offered) and Atkins ($7.95 million asked) ended up with a $7.3 million midpoint, perfect placement in the eyes of the Atkins camp. Jeff Blank, the agent for Atkins, said they were expecting a midpoint slightly below the one-year, $7.4 million contract Minnesota 1B Justin Morneau agreed on the day salary figures were exchanged last year. That deal became obsolete within days when the Twins signed Morneau to a six-year, $80 million contract.

"We feel pretty strongly based on Garrett's career numbers and everything, he was above Morneau," Blank said, "but we were shooting for a midpoint just a little bit below Morneau just to be safe.

"We submitted a little bit low ... because arbitrators tend to look at the midpoint, so you want to give yourself some room. So that way if you go to arbitration, you're in good shape."

Atkins, who turned 29 last month, has a .298 career average in 647 games with 357 runs, 725 hits, 150 doubles, 89 home runs, 431 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage and .474 slugging percentage.

After the 2007 season, Morneau, then 26, had a .276 average in 569 games with 296 runs scored, 567 hits, 112 doubles, 110 home runs, 394 RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage and .482 slugging percentage.

Morneau, however, was named the American League Most Valuable Player in 2006. Atkins' best finish in the National League MVP voting was 15th in 2006.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 29, 2009

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