Dodgers sign OF Pierre to five-year contract
November 25, 2006 8:08pm CST
The Los Angeles Dodgers have locked up their center fielder for the foreseeable future with the signing of Juan Pierre. The Dodgers signed the 29-year-old Pierre to a five-year contract Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Los Angeles Times reported the deal was worth $44 million. One of the top leadoff hitters in baseball, Pierre has a .303 career average in seven major league seasons. He has averaged 53 stolen bases over the last six seasons - finishing either first or second in the National League in each campaign. Pierre will combine with shortstop Rafael Furcal to form a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup. In his first season with the Dodgers in 2006, Furcal hit .300 with 15 home runs and 37 steals. The 29-year-old Pierre also is supremely durable, having not missed a game in more than four years, a streak of 497 contests that is the second-longest active streak behind Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada's 918. The signing ends a revolving door in center field for the Dodgers, who have not had a player appear in more than 120 games in one season there since Devon White played in 128 contests in 1999. Since 2001, Pierre has a major league-leading 318 steals and ranks second with 1,182 hits. In each of the last four years he has ranked second in the majors in bunt singles after leading in 2001 and 2002. Pierre has logged 135 bunt hits since 2001, 50 more than Alex Sanchez, who ranks second during that span. "Juan's ability to hit combined with his speed make him a perfect catalyst for our lineup," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "His work ethic and character are second to none and he knows what it takes to win. He's dedicated to the community and I truly believe the city of Los Angeles is going to love this player." Pierre spent 2006 with the Chicago Cubs, hitting .292 with 58 stolen bases. He batted just .275 in the first half before increasing that mark to .311 after the All-Star break. He led the National League in hits (204), singles (156) and at-bats (699). Never known for his power, Pierre has just 12 homers and 287 RBI in 1,007 career games. He had a career high-tying three home runs and 40 RBI last season. During the Florida Marlins' championship season in 2003, Pierre finished 10th in NL MVP voting. He led the league in games (162), at-bats (668), stolen bases (65), singles (168) and sacrifice hits (15).