Dodgers Non-Tender Russell Martin, Re-Sign Barajas

Rod Barajas will make $3.25 million in 2011.

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Dodgers Sign Rod Barajas To One-Year, $3.25 Million Deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't waste much time filling their catching void created by not tendering Russell Martin a contract Thursday night, as less than 24 hours later the club re-signed catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year contract. Barajas will receive $3.25 million in 2011, and will likely take the lion's share of catching duties as that isn't the salary of a backup catcher. The $3.25 million salary is the highest salary ever earned by the 35-year old Barajas.

"Much like Juan Uribe, we’ve seen that Rod can change the game with one swing and he’s a veteran catcher who knows how to handle a pitching staff," said general manager Ned Colletti. "We’re looking forward to having him back with the team next season." Barajas hit .297/.361/.578 in 25 games with the Dodgers after being claimed off waivers from the Mets on August 22.

Barajas grew up a Dodger fan in nearby Norwalk, and hit a home run in his first home game at Dodger Stadium, on August 30. "My hands were shaking, my knees were shaking. It was just a childhood dream come true. I don’t think anyone in my family will ever forget it," said Barajas. "I was happy and excited to finally be part of this organization and put this uniform on." Barajas hit .240/.284/.447 on the season, with 17 home runs, and is a career .239/.284/.412 hitter in parts of 12 major league seasons.

For more Dodgers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.


Dodgers Non-Tender Russell Martin, George Sherrill, Trent Oeltjen

The Los Angeles Dodgers non-tendered catcher Russell Martin, pitcher George Sherrill, and outfielder Trent Oeltjen, making all three free agents. Tonight at 9 p.m. PST was the deadline to tender contracts to players under reserve. The Dodgers did tender contracts to the other three players eligible for salary arbitration: pitchers Chad Billingsley and Hong-Chih Kuo, and first baseman James Loney.

Martin hit .248/.347/.332 in 2010, but missed the final two months after tearing the labrum in his right hip. He made $5.05 million in 2010, and figured to make at least $6 million through arbitration had he been tendered a contract. At the very least, tendering a contract would have meant the least Martin could make in 2011 would be $4.04 million, as players under reserve cannot have their salary cut by more than 20%. Now, as a free agent, Martin can be signed to any contract, but he is also free to negotiate with other teams.

Sherrill made $4.5 million last year, making payday the only positive of 2010 for him. Sherrill put up a 6.69 ERA on the season, which began with Sherrill as the setup man for Jonathan Broxton but ended with Sherrill as a situational left-hander. Oeltjen had five hits in 23 at-bats in 14 games for the Dodgers in 2010.

Billingsley was 12-11 with a 3.57 ERA in 2010, during which he made $3.85 million. Kuo filled in at times as closer in 2010, and set the Dodger franchise record with a 1.20 ERA, while making $950,000. Loney hit .267/.329/.395 with 10 home runs and 88 RBI, and made $3.1 million in 2010. All three are eligible for salary arbitration through the 2012 season.

There are now 36 players on the Dodgers' 40-man roster.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read True Blue LA.


Dodgers Face Tender Deadline Decisions

As the Thursday night deadline approaches to tender contracts to players under reserve, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a number of decisions to be made, most importantly involving catcher Russell Martin. The Dodgers have a number of players not yet eligible for free agency who will be eligible for salary arbitration. By Thursday night at 9 p.m. PST, the Dodgers must decide which players to whom they wish to tender contracts.

If a player is non-tendered, he immediately becomes a free agent. However, that does not preclude the club from re-signing said player. It just means there will be competition with the other 29 MLB teams. Tendering a contract to an arbitration-eligible player means the two sides will submit salary figures by January 18, and if the player and club can't agree on a deal, an arbitration hearing will be held to determine that player's 2011 salary. Arbitration is an either/or scenario; a panel of three will pick either the salary submitted by the player or the one submitted by the owner. But, most arbitration-eligible players never see the inside of an arbitration hearing, as deals are often agreed before a hearing is needed.

But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Here are the players about whom the Dodgers must make a decision by Thursday night:

Already Gone

Ryan Theriot, 2B      
Service Time: 4 years, 118 days         
2010 Salary: $2.6 million

With the signing of Juan Uribe, Theriot was a prime candidate to non-tender, as he was in line for a likely raise to roughly $3.5 million or more. The Dodgers ttraded Theriot Tuesday to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Blake Hawksworth.

The No Doubters

Hong-Chih Kuo, RP     
Service Time: 4 years, 114 days    
2010 Salary: $950,000

Kuo, at the very least, will be the prime setup man for the Dodgers, if not the closer.


Chad Billingsley, SP      
Service Time: 4 years, 110 days        
2010 Salary: $3.85 million

Billingsley joins Clayton Kershaw atop the Dodger starting rotation, which amazingly has been already set before the winter meetings.


James Loney, IB      
Service Time: 4 years, 12 days             
2010 Salary: $3.1 million

Loney's production relative to his position is getting harder and harder to justify, especially as his salary rises, but it would be a shocker if the Dodgers didn't bring him back.


The Likely Non-Tenders

Russell Martin, C      
Service Time: 4 years, 150 days      
2010 Salary: $5.05 million

The Dodgers want Martin back, but likely not at $6 million or more. His offensive production has declined since the 2008 All-Star break, and is coming off a torn labrum in his hip, but relative to other available catchers is still quite a valuable asset. If Martin is tendered a contract, the maximum cut he can receive is 20%, meaning he would make at least $4.04 million in 2011 under that scenario. Look for the Dodgers to try to work out an incentive-laden deal, perhaps even a two-year contract, with Martin, but don't be surprised if the Dodgers non-tender him first.


George Sherrill, RP      
Service Time: 5 years, 147 days     
2010 Salary: $4.5 million 

Sherrill, the one-time closer who has now become a lefty specialist, will definitely be non-tendered, as the Dodgers won't want to give him anywhere close to $4.5 million or more after his 6.69 ERA in 2010. Sherrill is a candidate to be re-signed for a much smaller contract.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read True Blue LA.

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