Troy Glaus Signing with the Atlanta Braves: Risks and Rewards

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IDecember 24, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 1:  Troy Glaus #8 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws to first base against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium April 1, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It looks like the Braves have found their right-handed power hitter.

Despite playing only six games in his career at first base, the Braves signed Troy Glaus to a one-year/$2 million contract yesterday:

Free agent corner infielder Troy Glaus and the Atlanta Braves have reached a tentative agreement on a contract, a baseball source told on Wednesday.

Glaus must undergo a physical exam before the deal can be completed. The physical is more than a formality because of his injury history, and is not expected to take place until after Christmas and possibly New Year's, so no announcement is imminent.

Glaus, 33, is a four-time All-Star with 304 home runs and a .497 career slugging percentage. He is expected to play first base in Atlanta and give the Braves some middle-of-the-order power to complement Chipper Jones and Brian McCann., which was first to report the pending deal, said Glaus will receive a one-year contract with incentives.

As I noted a week ago, Glaus made a lot of sense for the Braves as a low cost/high reward option to play first base. The Braves were in dire need of a right-handed power hitter even after trading Javier Vazquez, and Glaus stood out because of the low-level commitment that the Braves have to make (one year) and the limited dollars that the Braves had to throw his way.

By signing Glaus, the Braves still have some financial flexibility left over to make a run at other free agents and make their team deeper.

If Glaus is healthy, then it's not out of the question to put him down for 25-35 home runs. From 2005-2008, Glaus never hit fewer than 20 home runs in any season, and he has hit more than 35 home runs four times in his career.

However, there are a number of risks involved with signing Glaus. The first and most prominent concern has to be his health. Glaus missed nearly all of the 2009 season, and one has to wonder how Glaus will bounce back in 2010 and how he will hold up over a full season.

Also, Glaus has such limited experience playing first base that it remains to be seen if he will become a defensive liability for the Braves.

There's a reason why it cost so little for the Braves to sign Glaus (health, position, defense), but the potential upside of this deal is tremendous and could make the Braves a legitimate contender in the National League in 2010.