The Braves signed a longtime Braves fan Wednesday when Billy Wagner joined the roster. Could another lifelong Braves fan join Wagner soon?
Now that Atlanta has its new closer in the fold, improving the offense is the next priority. And there is another free agent that seems to be a perfect fit.
Mike Cameron was born in LaGrange, Georgia. He currently lives in McDonough, Georgia, which is 20 miles south of Turner Field. And for years there has been talk of Cameron wanting to be a Brave.
Cameron fits what the Braves are looking for in a right-handed hitting outfielder. He'll turn 37 on January 8, but even though he's gotten older, he's remained productive the last few seasons.
Cameron has been a major league regular since 1998, and since then he's averaged 139.5 games played per season. He had one season when he missed significant time, which was the 2005 season when he had only 76 games played. Take that season out and he's averaged 145 games played since 1998.
His numbers since 1998 are very consistent and impressive. He's averaged 20.8 home runs and 72.4 RBI per season, along with 28.5 doubles, and 139.6 strikeouts a year.
He does strike out a lot, and those numbers have increased as he's gotten a bit older. In the last four years, Cameron has averaged 150 strikeouts per season.
But in Cameron's last four seasons, he's averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBI, along with 31 doubles. So as Cameron has gotten older, he's produced more and struck out more.
Cameron is a three-time Gold Glove winner, taking home the trophy in 2001, 2003, and 2006.
Cameron just finished a two-year contract with the Brewers. He made $10 million in 2009 after Milwaukee picked up an option. The first year of his contract was worth $5 million in 2008.
With Cameron being a bit older, he's unlikely to get another big contract. Since his last deal averaged $7.5 million per year, the range of his next potential contract could be in the $5-$7 million per season range.
The Braves have Nate McLouth in center, but Cameron could be a nice addition in left field. But with Jordan Schafer still in the picture, it's unlikely the Braves would want to go two years. Atlanta may agree to offer a one-year contract with a team option for a second year, which would give them some insurance if Schafer is not ready or struggles in his return to the big leagues.
But would Cameron agree to, let's say, a one-year deal for $6 million, with a team option for $5 million for 2011? Well, if he really wants to play close to home, as has been rumored for some time, that type of deal might be right on the mark.
The Braves are looking at a number of free agents who hit right-handed and can play the outfield. But Cameron has a lot of advantages that may make you believe he could be the perfect fit.
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on
WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly baseball column for The Macon Telegraph and is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
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