The Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night non-tendered relief pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo, making the dean of the Dodgers a free agent. On the deadline day to tender 2012 contracts to all unsigned players, the Dodgers did tender contracts to outfielder Andre Ethier, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, and first baseman James Loney.
Kuo had a trying year in 2011, battling control problems that caused him to miss over a month on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder. One year after setting a Dodgers franchise record with a 1.20 ERA in 60 innings, Kuo put up a 9.00 ERA in 27 innings in 2011. Then, he ended the season by having arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow on October 28, the fifth surgery on his left elbow in his career.
Kuo was signed by the Dodgers out of high school in Taiwan in June 1999, making him the dean of the Dodgers. He made $2.725 million in 2011 and while he is now a free agent, general manager Ned Colletti has expressed interest in re-signing Kuo, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Kershaw is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and is arbitration eligible for the first time. He made $500,000 in 2011, but is expected to make at least $8 million in 2012. The 23-year old is a prime candidate for a long-term extension at some point this winter, though that may have to wait until the sale of the team is completed, a process that is expected to last until April.
Ethier made $9.25 million in 2011 in the final year of a two-year deal signed before the 2010 season. He hit .292/.368/.421 in 2011, but suffered a power outage with just 11 home runs in 551 plate appearances. Ethier battled a knee injury that ultimately required surgery in September and caused him to miss most of the final month of the season.
Loney was a clear candidate to be non-tendered in the first part of the season, hitting just .268/.311/.342 with four home runs in 91 games before the All-Star break. But a second half surge by Loney - .320/.380/.534 with 18 doubles and eight home runs in 67 games after the break - assured Loney of a job in 2012. He made $4.875 million last season.
The Dodgers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
For more on Kuo and the other Dodgers tendered contract on Monday, be sure to read True Blue LA.