By Joe Christensen
Please, don’t kill the messenger. I did some homework on one of the most popular names from the comment section, and here’s what I found:
Garrett Atkins is available. He’d be a pretty good fit for the 2007 Twins — far better than two other 3B oft-mentioned here, Cincinnati’s Edwin Encarnacion and Houston’s Morgan Ensberg. But from what I can tell, there are too many other drawbacks to trading for Atkins, which I outline below.
I know this is getting depressing. I hope studying examples like this help put things into perspective. It might explain why the likes of Ty Wigginton, Kevin Mench and Matt Stairs were featured in this series before any promising, everyday third basemen.
Name: Garrett Atkins, Rockies 3B
Basics: He’s 27 (turns 28 on Dec. 12). Bats R, Throws R. 6-3, 215 lbs. Born in Orange, Calif. Attended UCLA. Signed as the Rockies’ fifth-round pick in the 2000 draft.
Stats: Batting .247 with 11 homers and 45 RBI. A .323 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage. He batted .329 with 29 homers and 120 RBI in 2006, and those were not Coors Field inflated numbers, as 15 homers came at home and 14 came on the road. He was terrible this May (.188-1 HR-7 RBI), but bounced back in June, batting .305 with eight homers, 25 RBI and an .999 OPS.
Salary: $400,000. He won’t be a free agent until 2010. But he will be arbitration eligible after this season and can expect to see his salary jump into the $4 million range for next season. I was told that the Rockies tried locking him up to a four-year, $18 million contract last winter, and Atkins’ agent (Jeff Blank) hinted that he was looking for something closer to the five-year, $75 million deal the Cubs gave 3B Aramis Ramirez.
Good Twin because: He would infuse their offense with a potent righthanded bat and has the durability to play 3B every day. This would allow Nick Punto and Jeff Cirillo to stay in utility roles. … However, a scout who sees Atkins play regularly told me, “he’s nothing special defensively. His feet get him in trouble, and he doesn’t come in real well on balls.” Everyone here knows how much the Twins stress defense, so they have to accept far less defense than what Punto offers. The same scout raved about Atkins’ swing: “He stays inside the ball so well. He looks like he’s back to his old self. He’ll hit you 20-25 [home runs] and a lot of doubles. He must have had 50 doubles [actually 48] last year.”
Available?: Yes. The Rockies have been listening to offers because they have 22-year-old 3B Ian Stewart playing well for Class AAA Colorado Springs. They also have Jeff Baker on their big-league roster, as a serviceable 3B option. Interesting note, the scout told me he’d rather trade for Jeff Baker than Morgan Ensberg.
Probable cost: Here is the huge catch. Six weeks ago, when Atkins was struggling miserably at the plate, the Rockies were still asking for a king’s ransom. The Angels, for example, were reportedly told it would take Ervin Santana-plus other prospects to get him. For the Twins, that means it would take Matt Garza-plus, and you can argue that Garza has yet to put himself in Ervin Santana’s category.
Potential Bat-Girl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): Garrett Golddigger. (Suggestions?)
Odds this trade happens: 20-to-1. Price just seems too high for what you’d have to give up for another arbitration-eligible player.