Atkins gets $4.5 million from Orioles, with $8.5 million option for 2011

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In analyzing Garrett Atkins signing with the Orioles last night Matthew predicted that the one-year deal would be worth “$4 million-$5 million.” Official terms of the contract were released this afternoon and sure enough Atkins is guaranteed … $4.5 million.
He’ll get $4 million in 2010 and the Orioles hold an $8.5 million option or $500,000 buyout for 2011, so it’ll either be a one-year, $4.5 million deal or a two-year, $12.5 million deal. Expect the former, because the odds of Atkins being worth $8.5 million in 2011 are slim, particularly with the Orioles using him keeping third base warm for prospect Josh Bell.
I’m not as optimistic about Atkins rebounding in Baltimore as Matthew seems to be. His defense at third base is closer to horrible than average at this point and his OPS has gone from .965 to .853 to .780 to .650 since a career-year in 2006. He’ll bounce back from last season’s putrid .226/.308/.342 mark, but Atkins was also a below-average hitter in 2008 and has batted just .252/.324/.411 away from Coors Field during his entire seven-year career. Toss in the league switch and I’d certainly take the “under” on an .800 OPS.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.