The Dodgers were able to sign one of their three players eligible for salary arbitration, but couldn't reach agreement with the other two. Earlier today, the Dodgers avoided arbitration by signing Chad Billingsley to a one-year contract. However, they exchanged salary figures with first baseman James Loney and Hong-Chih Kuo, bringing them one step closer to an arbitration hearing.
Loney asked for $5.25 million, while the Dodgers submitted a salary of $4.7 million. Kuo requested $3.075 million, while the club is seeking a $2.55 million salary for their reliever. If both sides can't reach agreement, an arbitration hearing will be scheduled for some time between February 1-18. In an arbitration, representatives for both player and club will present their case to a three-member panel, who will in turn pick one salary or the other, with no in between. However, in most cases, the player and club reach agreement on a contract before a hearing is needed.
Loney made $3.1 million last season, his first year of arbitration eligibility. After two successive years with exactly 13 home runs and 90 RBI, Loney hit 10 homers and drove in 88 runs in 2010, hitting .267/.329/.395. It was the second straight season with a slugging percentage under .400 for the first baseman. Loney has one more year of arbitration eligibility, in 2012, before qualifying for free agency.
Kuo made $975,000 in 2010, including performance bonuses, and had a wonderful season, setting a Dodger franchise record with a 1.20 ERA (minimum 40 innings) in 56 games. Kuo averaged more than a strikeout per inning for the third straight season, and even filled in as closer in the second half after Jonathan Broxton faltered. Kuo saved 12 games in 12 closing opportunities to go along with his 3-2 record.
The Dodgers have $83.45 million committed to 17 players in 2011 (which doesn't include Marcus Thames, since his contract is not yet finalized), plus another $16.3 million in deferred salaries to players no longer on the team.
The Dodgers also announced on Tuesday that they signed right-handed outfielder Gabe Kapler to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The 35-year old hit just .210/.288/.290 in 59 games with Tampa Bay in 2010. The Taft High School grad has hit .268/.329/.420 in parts of 12 seasons with six different teams.
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