DENVER (AP) — Spending the last 9½ seasons in Baltimore and watching the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox annually battle for playoff berths left Melvin Mora with one big wish in free agency.
"The most important thing for Melvin, being that he's 38 years old and has been playing on a sub-.500 team for many, many years, was to get to the postseason," Mora's agent, Eric Goldschmidt, said Monday.
Mora hasn't been to the playoffs since he was a 27-year-old rookie with the New York Mets in 1999. A year later, he was shipped to Baltimore at the trade deadline.
"At Melvin's age and where he's at in his career, he really had me focus on the teams that we thought had the best chance of getting into the playoffs," Goldschmidt said.
The Colorado Rockies, with two playoff berths in three seasons, a core of promising, young players and the NL Manager of the Year in Jim Tracy, certainly fit that requirement.
And when Orlando Cabrera accepted Cincinnati's offer for a one-year contract to be the Reds' starting shortstop, the Rockies turned their attention to signing Mora, who turns 38 on Tuesday.
Goldschmidt confirmed that Mora agreed to a $1.3 million, one-year contract with Colorado, an agreement first reported by foxsports.com.
Mora's versatility was attractive to the Rockies, who signed Jason Giambi to back up first baseman Todd Helton last week. Mora is expected to serve primarily as a backup at third base for Ian Stewart, but he can also play left and center fields and back up all the infield positions.
He could push second baseman Clint Barmes for at-bats, and with the Rockies starting left-handed hitters at all three outfield spots and at third base, the right-handed-hitting Mora can expect plenty of trips to the plate as a pinch-hitter, too.
A career .278 hitter and a two-time All-Star, Mora slumped last year with a .260 batting average with eight homers and 48 RBIs after averaging 20 homers over his previous seven seasons. In 2008, he hit 23 home runs and drove in 104 while batting .285.
Much like Giambi, who's 39, Mora brings a veteran presence to Colorado's youth-filled clubhouse.
"He brings a lot of experience," Goldschmidt said. "He's played in the real tough American League East, he's played a lot of games at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, so he's faced some of the best pitchers in baseball. And the club does have some very good, young Latin American players that he can be a good influence on and help their career development.
"But I think just his motivation to win and contribute will be a plus in the clubhouse."