Payton gives O's needed righty-hitting outfielder

Updated: December 11, 2006, 8:38 PM ET
Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Free agent Jay Payton agreed to a $9.5 million, two-year contract Monday with the Baltimore Orioles, who have spent much of the offseason searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder.

Right Field
Baltimore Orioles

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Payton batted .296 with 10 homers and 59 RBI in 142 games with Oakland this year. He is expected to play mostly in left field, but he's capable of manning center and right.

"Jay fits our need for a right-handed hitting outfielder," said Mike Flanagan, the team executive vice president for baseball operations. "The fact that he hits for average against both lefties and righties and his versatility to play all over the outfield is a real plus."

The 34-year-old Payton joins left-handed batters Corey Patterson, Nick Markakis, Jay Gibbons and David Newhan in the Baltimore outfield.

Payton has a lifetime .284 batting average and has hit 105 homers in seven seasons. His 78 runs, 45 extra-base hits and 233 total bases this year were all the second-highest single-season totals of his career.

This season he started 51 games in left field, 44 games in center and 41 in right.

Payton reached the majors in his fifth professional season with the New York Mets in 1998 and also played for Colorado, San Diego and Boston before being traded to Oakland during the 2005 All-Star break.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press