Indians to Sign Casey Kotchman: Well It's About Time

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Cleveland Indians have agreed to sign free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman, according to’s Jon Heyman. It’s a one-year deal worth $3 million plus incentives, the Plain Dealer‘s Paul Hoynes says.

The Indians have been connected to Kotchman all winter. As a solid-fielding veteran first baseman who was coming off a strong offensive season and wouldn’t command a big salary, he’s seemed like a natural fit to challenge Matt LaPorta and Shelley Duncan for the Tribe’s first base job in 2012.

Kotchman, who turns 29 this month, hit .306/.378/.422 (125 wRC+) with 10 homers, 48 RBI, and 2.8 fWAR in 146 games for Tampa Bay in 2011. His strong performance might not be sustainable, though—his success was largely the result of a .335 BABIP, which was 106 points higher than his 2010 mark and 67 points above his previous career average.

Once considered a top prospect, Kotchman has been a roughly league-average hitter in his career, slashing .268/.336/.398 (97 wRC+) and averaging 12 home runs, 68 RBI, and 1.1 fWAR per 162 games. He’s got a great glove, though, with a career UZR/150 of 7.6.

Kotchman is now the presumptive starter at first base, but he may have to battle LaPorta, Duncan, and the just-acquired Russ Canzler, who was Kotchman’s 2011 teammate in Tampa Bay.

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