Wigginton, Orioles' lone 2010 All-Star, signs with Rockies

Club talks with Brewers, Braves about Fielder, Kawakami, respectively

December 07, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Orioles' lone 2010 All-Star will not be with the club in 2011.

Ty Wigginton, who batted .248 with 22 homers and 76 RBIs in 154 games for the Orioles last season, signed a two-year, $8 million deal Tuesday with the Colorado Rockies, which includes a $4 million option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.

The deal won't become official until Wigginton passes a physical, which has yet to be scheduled. But it marks the end of the hard-nosed infielder's two seasons in Baltimore.

"I made a lot of good friends, guys I played for and played with, and I enjoyed competing with them," Wigginton said of his time in Baltimore. "I enjoyed the fans; the fans were always behind me. It definitely was a good stop for me."

Wigginton said he maintained interest in returning to Baltimore but ultimately he had a chance to play fairly regularly for a team that has made the playoffs twice in the past four seasons. He has never made the playoffs in a nine-year big league career.

"I think a major thing that drew me to Colorado is that they have played a lot of meaningful games late in the season," Wigginton said. "Recently, they always seem to be in the race late, and they've played a lot of good baseball in the last few years."

Wigginton, 33, signed a two-year deal with the Orioles in the 2009 offseason and batted .273 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in a limited role that year. But he received 171 more at-bats in 2010 while playing second base, first base and third base and making his first All-Star team.

The Orioles, however, wanted more power at the corners, and when they traded Monday for third baseman Mark Reynolds and continued to pursue a starting first baseman, it became obvious Wigginton would end up elsewhere.

"Wiggy did a nice job for us, and I was glad to see Wiggy get the deal he did, to be honest with you," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "But I think once he saw us get the everyday third baseman and the potential of landing a different first baseman … [playing time] would be reduced for him, and that was important to him to go somewhere where he could get a lot of at-bats."

Wigginton, who is joining his sixth big league club, said he understood the Orioles' decision.

"I think they showed good interest," he said. "They have always been good to me, and they stayed in touch, definitely, the whole time."

O's, Brewers talk Fielder

In their search for a first baseman, the Orioles have spoken with the Milwaukee Brewers about slugger Prince Fielder, who is a free agent after the 2011 season.

A source said preliminary talks occurred but were not particularly far along. The Brewers reportedly are seeking pitching in return for Fielder. The Orioles likely wouldn't offer a package involving top prospects unless an extension with Fielder could be reached.

Fielder, 26, has hit 28 or more homers in each of his five big league seasons.

Orioles discussed Kawakami

The Orioles also have had discussions with the Atlanta Braves involving starter Kenshin Kawakami, who is owed $6.67 million in the final season of a three-year deal. The Braves are looking to shed Kawakami's salary and are seeking outfield help. However, one industry source said the deal is unlikely to happen.

Kawakami, 35, was 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA in 18 games (16 starts) for the Braves in 2010 and also pitched five games in the minors last season. In his first year in the United States, Kawakami was 7-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 32 games (25 starts). The Orioles pursued Kawakami after the 2008 season but instead signed fellow Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara.

Around the horn

Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott, who lives about an hour away from Orlando, attended the meetings Tuesday to see his agent. While there, he proudly showed pictures of a recent deer hunt in Michigan that included his bagging of a 36-point buck. Scott, in full winter beard, begins his wood-chopping, annual training in the Oklahoma woods Jan. 1. … Showalter, in meeting with the media Tuesday afternoon, said he has twice tried to get in touch with rookie third baseman Josh Bell after Monday's trade for Reynolds but hasn't spoken to him. He wants the 24-year-old to know he still is part of the organization's future. Showalter said he and MacPhail have talked to Bell previously about the need to improve his conditioning, something he believes Bell is taking seriously. … Showalter said he has received positive reports on the health of second baseman Brian Roberts, who dealt with myriad injuries and ailments in 2010.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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