Sports Outside the Beltway

A’s Sign Shannon Stewart

The Oakland Athletics have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Shannon Stewart for a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $2.5 million with incentives, pending a physical, ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney has learned.

Stewart, 32, is a .299 career hitter with 102 home runs in 11 seasons with Toronto and Minnesota. His best year came in 2000, when he hit 21 homers and drove in 69 runs for the Blue Jays.

Stewart has had plantar fasciitis problems in both feet over the past three years, limiting him to 92 games in 2004 and only 44 last season with the Minnesota Twins. The plantar fascia is a long tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.

Apparently Billy Beane is really, really worried about outfield depth. Right now he’s got Mark Kotsay, Milton Bradley, Nick Swisher, Bobby Kielty, Ryan Goleski and Ricky Ledee. If this report is correct, and I’ll assume it is since it came from Buster Olney, now Shannon Stewart joins the fold.

If Stewart can return to full health, I envision him as a sort of Jay Payton with more OBP and slightly less power, although Payton definitely has the edge on defense and health. Perhaps getting Stewart off of fake grass for the first time in his career (Toronto, Minnesota) will keep him healthy.

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