Nov 5, 2009, 2:38 PM EST
When the Diamondbacks signed Chad Tracy to a long-term contract in May of 2006 he was a 26-year-old lifetime .296/.354/.484 hitter who had emerged as the team’s starting third baseman following a hugely productive minor-league career.
Buying out his three seasons of arbitration eligibility for $13.25 million and getting a $7 million team option for his first season of free agency seemed like a shrewd investment, but since signing the deal Tracy has hit just .265/.327/.424 while playing fewer than 100 games in each of the past three seasons because of injuries.
This afternoon the Diamondbacks declined their $7 million option on Tracy for 2010, choosing to make him a free agent with a $1 million buyout. When healthy Tracy was a high-average hitter with 20-homer power who could play passable defense at third base, but he’s batted just .256 with a total of 23 homers in 262 games over the past three seasons and is no longer a realistic option defensively at the hot corner.
At this point in his career Tracy will likely be competing with guys like Eric Hinske for jobs as a left-handed bench bat. Tracy should have no trouble finding work despite his bad knees leaving him with even less defensive versatility than Hinske, but may have to put together a healthy, productive season as a part-time player before anyone views him as an everyday option again.
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