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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Atkins agrees to 1-year, $7.05M deal

Associated Press

DENVER -- Third baseman Garrett Atkins avoided arbitration Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year, $7.05 million contract with the Colorado Rockies that will make him the second-highest paid player on the team.
Atkins
Atkins

Atkins is training at Athletes' Performance in Carson, Calif., in preparation for his move back to third base and is pleased a deal was struck, agent Jeff Blank told The Associated Press.

"Garrett's really excited that he doesn't have to travel to Phoenix for a hearing because he's wrapping up his training and now he gets to finish that up instead of going into a room for four hours and listening to the team grill him," Blank said. "I don't think any player wants to go to arbitration and sit in a hearing room and listen to the team highlight his weaknesses."

All six of the Rockies' arbitration-eligible players avoided hearings by agreeing to one-year deals this offseason.

Atkins can make an additional $125,000 if he reaches 700 plate appearances this year.

After making $4.44 million last season, Atkins asked for $7.95 million in arbitration and the club offered $6.65 million. The sides were set to go to a hearing Friday in Arizona.

Atkins, who just turned 29, entered the winter expecting to be dealt to another team. But once the Rockies traded slugger Matt Holliday, he was pretty sure the club needed his right-handed bat in the middle of its young lineup.

He hit .286 with 21 homers and 99 RBIs last season.

In his four full seasons in the majors, Atkins has hit .301 and averaged 37 doubles, 22 homers and 105 RBIs, the type of consistent production the Rockies will lean on more this year following Holliday's departure.

Atkins spent most of last season at first base after Todd Helton's bad back landed him on the disabled list and eventually the operating table. Atkins played 61 games at first last season, and although he's returning to third base, he expects to play as much as once a week at first this year to give Helton a break.

Helton will make $16.6 million this season.

In addition to his base salary, Atkins would make $12,500 each for 600 and 625 plate appearances, $25,000 each for 650 and 675 plate appearances and $50,000 for 700 plate appearances.

The Rockies avoided arbitration with all six of their eligible players for 2009. Right-handers Taylor Buchholz, Jason Grilli and Huston Street, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa and infielder Clint Barmes all agreed to one-year deals on Jan. 20.