Rox sign Mabry to Minor League deal

Rox sign Mabry to Minor League deal

DENVER -- Utilityman John Mabry has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Rockies, the club announced on Monday afternoon.

Mabry, 36, plays all three outfield positions and both corner-infield spots, and also will be looked at as a left-handed pinch-hitter. The contract is worth $750,000 if Mabry makes the big-league club.

The veteran has appeared in 1,294 Major League games with seven clubs, including the Cardinals for three different stints. He has hit .328 with four home runs and 28 RBIs at Coors Field.

The Rockies also were negotiating Monday with free-agent right-handed pitcher Brian Lawrence.

Mabry joins a group of players competing for bench jobs. Jobs at shortstop (between Clint Barmes and rookie Troy Tulowitzki), catcher (among Yorvit Torrealba, rookie Chris Iannetta and free-agent signing Javy Lopez for two spots) and center field (where acquisition Willy Taveras is in the lead, but has plenty of homegrown competitors) also are for grabs, and the Rockies promise playing time for both second basemen (Jamey Carroll and Kazuo Matsui). Colorado will also have to sort out several starting and relief spots.

The internal vying for jobs during Spring Training, for which pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15, is designed to make the lineup better and give the team depth throughout the season.

"We're going to be more competitive with the talent we're bringing in and what we already have," general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "We'll be competitive in Spring Training, and hopefully from there, we can get off to a good start that lasts longer than July 5."

Admiration for Helton: Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay gave up his No. 35 when Toronto signed Frank Thomas this offseason. But before completing his four-year, $24 million deal with the Jays, Overbay insisted on No. 17. Overbay's admiration for the Rockies' Todd Helton was part of the reason.

"I've always watched him as a baseball player and wanted to be just like him," Overbay said. "With Mark Grace [who also wore No. 17], it's the same way. It was kind of an easy choice for me."

Arbitration time: Wednesday is the date that the Rockies will exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players -- left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, starting pitchers Josh Fogg and newly acquired Rodrigo Lopez, left fielder Matt Holliday and center fielder Cory Sullivan.

If the club and a player do not reach an agreement -- for this season or a multiyear deal -- before a hearing takes place in February, an arbitration panel will assign the player either his request or the club's figure. O'Dowd said the club will continue to negotiate with the players to try to avoid the hearings, in which the player is present while sometimes contentious arguments take place before the panel.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Jordan Bastian contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.