Determined not to start the new year without a first baseman, the Orioles have reached a one-year agreement with veteran Derrek Lee, according to several sources.
The 35-year-old had been in talks with the Orioles and several other teams throughout the offseason after playing for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves last season. Lee hit .260 with 19 home runs and 80 runs batted in in 2010 before undergoing thumb surgery last month.
Lee is a career .282 hitter with 312 home runs in his 14-year career with the Padres, Marlins, Cubs, and Braves. He is a two-time All Star and has won three Gold Gloves.
Speculation persisted for several weeks that the Orioles were targeting Adam LaRoche after Lee had originally spurned the Orioles’ initial interest, but a diminishing number of starting first-base jobs likely persuaded the veteran to accept Baltimore’s offer.
Lee becomes the third new member of the projected starting infield in 2011, joining third baseman Mark Reynolds and shortstop J.J. Hardy who were acquired in separate trades earlier this offseason.