Indians sign Kotchman
The Cleveland Indians today announced that they have signed free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman to a one-year contract. He will earn $3 million in 2012 and there are incentives in his contract to earn more. The Indians have not yet announced the player that will be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Kotchman.
Kotchman, 28, played with the Tampa Bay Rays last season and finished 8th in the American League in hitting (.306) and 10th in on-base percentage (.378). He also had 24 doubles, 10 home runs, 48 RBI, and a .800 OPS in his 146 games played. His batting average, on-base percentage, and games played were all career highs. In his 8-year career he is a .268 hitter with 59 HR, 332 RBI and .733 OPS, and where he really helps is his ability to limit strikeouts as he has just 289 strikeouts in 2588 career at bats. He is a former Baseball America MLB Top 25 Prospect for four straight years from 2002-2005 when he was in the Angels system.
Kotchman is a plus defender and should help improve the Indians' infield defense on the right side. Last year he finished the season with a .998 fielding percentage (2 errors in 1201 total chances), leading all Major League first basemen in that category for a fourth consecutive campaign (2008-11). His career .998 fielding percentage (11 errors in 6076 total chances) is the highest in Major League history for those with at least 700 career games at the position.
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Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.