Garrett Atkins Non-Tendered

garrett-atkinsThe Colorado Rockies have announced they will not be offering a contract to Garrett Atkins, making him a free agent.

Atkins had an absolutely awful 2009 campaign, hitting only .226 with 9 HR and a .650 OPS in 399 plate appearances. His salary was $7.05M and would have been well over $5M at minimum if he was offered arbitration, so the Rockies cut him loose.

Should the Mets be interested?

His breakout season came in 2006 when he hit .329 with 29 HR, 120 RBI, and a .409 OBP. He followed that up with a .301 / 25 / 111 / .367 in 2007 and .286 / 21 / 99 / .328 in 2008. The trend downward is puzzling — by the OBP numbers it would appear that he gradually expanded his strike zone.

His altered approach and downward spiral might also be explained by lack of protection in the lineup. In 2006 he spent most of the time batting either third or fourth, immediately ahead of Matt Holliday or Todd Helton. In 2007 he was most often in the fifth spot, behind Helton and ahead of Brad Hawpe. In 2008 he also most often hit fifth, ahead of Hawpe or Ian Stewart. Last year he was all over the lineup, when he was in it, and actually spent most of his time in the cleanup spot — usually with Hawpe batting fifth.

In his career, Atkins hits best in the three hole (.314 AVG / .398 OBP / .939 OPS) and the fifth spot (.298 AVG / .354 OBP / .834 OPS). Clearly he is not the type of hitter who can be “the guy”, but he has proven to hit well with good hitters around him.

For your information, he has played over 100 MLB games at first base, and another 180+ at the position in the minors. He has also appeared in the outfield but I don’t know if it’s a position he can handle.

To me, Atkins’ current situation is reminiscent to that of Jorge Cantu a few years back. Some of you may remember my obsession with Cantu when his career was similarly spiraling downward. Atkins turns 30 years old today (what a nice b-day present — losing your job!), and is still young enough to turn things around over the short term. It is reclamation projects like this that the Mets should be taking advantage of, rather than throwing millions at proven mediocrity such as Alex Cora, Elmer Dessens, Henry Blanco, etc.

What do you think? Is he worth a gamble at, say, $2.5M?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike December 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm
    Absolutely. Simply put. I’m down for Atkins and Sheets. Both are worth a gamble in my opinion.
  2. joe December 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm
    Do something right for once…. take a chance on this guy
  3. royhobbs7 December 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm
    This is a no-brainer. Sign him, give him an incentive-laden contract for at least 3 Mil.
  4. Pete M December 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm
    Atkins would be a great fit in the Tatis role. He might even take the 1B job from Daniel Murphy.
  5. Nick December 12, 2009 at 4:19 pm
    A chance worth taking, go for it Omar!
  6. isuzudude December 13, 2009 at 10:46 am
    Atkins would be a decent gamble, but I think he can land a 3B job somewhere (Baltimore, Minnesota) and command a $5M contract, something the Mets probably shouldn’t be doling out to a projected bench player.

    The non-tender I’m most fond of is Ryan Garko. He will certainly command much less money, and has the potential to be just as productive as Atkins. And, unlike Atkins, Garko has recent MLB OF experience, which would be another plus for a Met team looking for a right-handed 1B/LF slugger. Considering the role an Atkins or Garko type player would receive with the Mets (1B/LF platooner), I think Garko’s salary would be much more befitting for a team on the constant patrol for bargains.

    Some of the other non-tenders that spark my interest as well include:
    – Ryan Church (though his ship has likely sailed)
    – Matt Capps (could make for a relatively cheap 8th inning man)
    – Jose Arrendondo (set to miss all of 2010 with an injury but is a 25 year old flamethrower who is worth a flyer)

  7. isuzudude December 13, 2009 at 10:56 am
    BTW – no surprises among the Met non-tenders. Tim Redding, Cory Sullivan, Jeremy Reed, and Lance Broadway. Out of that group, I’d only really be interested in bringing Reed back, but probably on just a minor league deal, and he’s likely to land a major league contract elsewhere, so his time in NY is probably over.

    Francoeur, Maine, and Sean Green were all offered arbitration. Again, as expected.

  8. Non-tenders To Consider : Mets Today December 14, 2009 at 5:23 am
    […] Atkins There’s a full post arguing his case here. Has the highest potential reward among non-tendered position players, but also could be risky […]