Beckham back home on 1-year deal with Braves
Former Georgia infielder spent seven seasons with White Sox and Angels
ATLANTA -- After spending the past two seasons enduring long bouts of frustration, Gordon Beckham will have an opportunity to come home and revive his career.
Beckham signed a one-year deal that positions him to spend this season serving as a versatile backup infielder with the Braves. The one-year, $1.25 million contract includes $500,000 in incentives. The club announced the contract on Friday.
Beckham was born and raised in Atlanta before he established himself at the University of Georgia. The 29-year-old infielder was taken by the White Sox with the eighth overall selection in the 2008 Draft, and he made his Major League debut the following year.
Along with providing a solid backup option at both middle infield positions, Beckham could see plenty of time at third base. He certainly would serve as a much more reliable defensive option than Adonis Garcia, who has been projected to serve as the Braves' third baseman on a regular basis next year.
With Beckham, Atlanta gained another high-character clubhouse presence who has benefited from the opportunities he has had to learn from veteran teammates such as Jim Thome and current Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"I think it's a good fit," said Braves special assistant Greg Walker, who was Beckham's hitting coach in Chicago. "He's still very positive about his offensive potential, and his defense is a given. He can play a variety of positions and you don't worry about him at all with the glove. His makeup is off the charts."
Video: [email protected]: Beckham dives to snag a sharp grounder
Walker has maintained a strong friendship with Beckham. In fact, the former Braves hitting coach was a member of the wedding party when the infielder married the daughter of Scott Fletcher, Atlanta's former assistant hitting coach.
Beckham has batted .242 with a .676 OPS over a seven-season career that has been primarily spent with the White Sox. Minus a 26-game stint with the 2014 Angels, the Atlanta native has spent the entirety of his career playing in Chicago.
Now, Beckham is hoping to benefit from this change of scenery. He batted .209 while compiling just 237 plate appearances over 100 games with the White Sox in 2015. Since the start of the '14 season, he has hit .221 with a .272 on-base percentage.
Beckham batted .270 during his rookie year and produced a .694 OPS through the first five seasons (2009-13) of his career.
"He's done it for stretches," Walker said. "The potential is there, and it's not like he's too old to put it all together."