Reds sign center fielder Taveras
The speedy Taveras is coming off a down season with Colorado. He batted .251 with a paltry .308 on-base percentage in 133 games, though he did lead the major leagues with 68 stolen bases.
"Willy Taveras fills two significant needs for our ballclub, a speed base-stealing threat at the top of the order and superior defense in center field," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement.
Taveras, who turned 27 on Christmas, became a free agent when the Rockies decided not to offer him a contract by the Dec. 12 deadline. He spent two injury-plagued seasons in Colorado after he was acquired from Houston in a December 2006 trade.
Cincinnati had been looking for a center fielder with speed, allowing the team to keep promising young slugger Jay Bruce in right. Corey Patterson became a free agent after starting 82 games in center last season, and the Reds traded Ryan Freel to Baltimore this month in a deal for catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Taveras has a .283 career batting average with seven homers, 109 RBIs and 169 stolen bases. He batted .320 with a .367 on-base percentage for Colorado in 2007, helping the Rockies reach the World Series.
Taveras, who finished runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 2005 to Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard, was caught stealing only seven times last season for a major league-best .907 stolen-base percentage.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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