SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ― Pat Burrell had earned more than enough money in his 11-year big-league career to know that playing for a contender with teammates he’s close to was far more important than maximizing his value on the free-agent market.
Burrell signed a $1 million, one-year contract with the World Series champion Giants on Friday, taking a below-market deal to remain in San Francisco.
“The truth of it is that 10 years ago it would probably be a different situation,” he said. “At this point in my career, playing somewhere special is more important than testing out free agency and all that goes along with that.”
The deal does not include any incentives.
Burrell will likely be in the mix for a starting outfield spot for the Giants next season. Andres Torres is expected to remain the starting center fielder. Postseason star Cody Ross was tendered a contract for 2011 on Thursday and will likely start in right field.
Aaron Rowand, who has two years left on his $60 million, five-year contract, and Nate Schierholtz also return from last season’s team. Prospect Brandon Belt could also get an opportunity to compete for a starting spot in spring training.
“One thing we established here early on in the season and carried through the playoffs is no matter what your baseball card said the previous year, we’re going to play the best people,” general manager Brian Sabean said. “Pat knows that he’s the incumbent left fielder and we’ll go to spring training and see how this develops.”
The 34-year-old Burrell came to the Giants on a minor league deal May 29 after his release by Tampa Bay and spent a short stint with Triple-A Fresno before joining the Giants on June 4.
He batted .266 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games for San Francisco, becoming the everyday left fielder.
“The Giants gave me the opportunity to come play baseball again when I didn’t have any other opportunities,” Burrell said. “I feel some loyalty as well.”
The Giants went on to clinch the NL West title on the final day of the regular season, ending a six-year postseason drought before making their World Series run.
Burrell, who also won a ring with the Phillies in 2008, struggled in the World Series — won in five games by the Giants over the Texas Rangers. He went 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts and was benched for Game 4 at Texas. He had 22 strikeouts in 49 at-bats overall during the postseason.
“I more than struggled,” he said. “I had a difficult time even putting the ball in play. That’s unfortunate. Deep down does it bother you? Of course. But in the big picture we won. That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Giants have now brought back two key members of their championship team who were free agents, also signing first baseman Aubrey Huff to a $22 million, two-year contract last week.
San Francisco lost infielder Juan Uribe to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week when he signed a $21 million, three-year deal. But the Giants filled that hole quickly by signing shortstop Miguel Tejada to a $6.5 million, one-year contract.
“Our goal was to keep as much of this team together going forward,” Sabean said. “Pat’s timely decision really takes a lot of pressure off us in so many ways.”
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