The Atlanta Braves have agreed to a one-year contract with utilityman Chris Woodward. The Braves expect Woodward to see time at every position in the infield and in the outfield if needed.
The 30-year-old Woodward has been with the Mets the last two seasons. He had a bum shoulder last season and played in only 83 games, hitting just .216. In 2005, he hit .283 with 3 home runs.
Woodward started his career in the Blue Jays' organization, reaching the majors for the first time in 1999. His best season was in 2002 when he hit .276 with 13 home runs and 45 runs batted in as Toronto's primary shortstop. He played for the Blue Jays through 2004 before joining the Mets.
Last season in New York Woodward played in one game at first base, 39 at second base, 13 at shortstop, 11 at third base, and 9 games in the outfield. He's just started playing the outfield the last two years with the Mets, playing in 23 games there in 2005. He's a natural shortstop, but has seen significant time at every infield position throughout his pro career.
The right-handed hitting Woodward will compete with Tony Pena, Jr. and Pete Orr for playing time next spring. His ability to also play first base gives the Braves a right-handed bat to backup Adam LaRoche or Scott Thorman at that position.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.