The Cleveland Indians today announced that the club has signed free agent 1B Casey Kotchman to a one-year Major League contract for the 2012 season.
Kotchman, 28, spent the 2011 season with Tampa Bay, finishing eighth among American League qualifiers with a .306 (153-500) batting average and 10th with a .378 on-base pct., both career-highs (.422 SLG/.800 OPS). Kotchman joined Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (.344/.448) and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez (.338/.410) as the only AL first basemen to finish among the league's top ten in both batting average and on-base pct. The St. Petersburg (FL) native also collected 24 doubles, 10 home runs, and 48 RBI over a career-high 146 games for the Rays, all at first base (135 starts), after signing a minor league contract with the club on Jan. 28. He recorded his fifth consecutive season w/at least 20 doubles and paced the Rays with 18 infield hits. The left-handed hitter and thrower carried a .313 (110-351) clip against right-handers, while batting .289 (43-149) vs. lefties. Kotchman finished the season with a .998 (2 E/1201 TC) fielding pct., leading all major league first basemen in that category for a fourth consecutive campaign (2008-11).
The 8-year veteran has a career .268 (693-2588) average with 145 doubles, 59 homers, and 332 RBI across 791 major league contests for LA of Anaheim (2004-08), Atlanta (2008-09), Boston (2009), Seattle (2010), and Tampa Bay (2011). His career .998 (11 E/6076 TC) fielding pct. is the highest in Major League history among first basemen with at least 700 games at the position. Kotchman has also appeared in the postseason five times with the Angels (2004-05, 2007), Red Sox (2009) and Rays (2011). He was originally selected by the Angels in the first round (13th overall) of the 2001 June draft out of Seminole High School (St. Petersburg). He will wear #35.