Dodgers, Lilly finalize three-year deal
Two-time All-Star went 7-4 with 3.52 ERA in 12 starts for LA
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers were willing to give left-handed starting pitcher Ted Lilly the contract they wouldn't give Randy Wolf a year ago, which was proof enough for Lilly to sign it.
Lilly inked a three-year, $33 million deal Tuesday and bypassed free agency, convinced that general manager Ned Colletti means it when he says the Dodgers payroll will increase for 2011 and, by extension, the club's chances for success will improve.
A year ago, with his budget hamstrung, Colletti let Wolf -- whose stats are a mirror image of Lilly's -- walk without a contract offer. Wolf signed a three-year, $29.75 million deal with Milwaukee.
"The Dodgers were very up front and made the process really simple," said Lilly. "They were more than fair, they gave me a great deal to be part of a strong pitching staff. I know the front office is trying to improve, and now we have another starter out of the way and they can address other issues.
Lilly, who turns 35 in January, was acquired from the Cubs at the Trade Deadline with second baseman Ryan Theriot for Blake DeWitt and a pair of Minor League pitchers. He went 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts for the Dodgers, was 10-12 with a 3.62 ERA overall and had the third-lowest run support in MLB.
Coming off a four-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Cubs, his new deal has a complete no-trade clause the first two years with no deferred compensation.
"Obviously, I'm getting older and there are going to be a lot of question marks about signing me to a multi-year deal," said Lilly. "I'm eager to try and make sure it's worth it, and one way is by winning. Now I want to get back to doing what Cliff Lee's been doing. I've watched every pitch, and he's doing things I want to find myself in. My dream is the opportunity to do something like that and I think this is a good place to do it."
Lilly -- who said he wants to pitch into his 40s -- provides veteran leadership to a starting rotation built around young ace Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. The Dodgers are still expected to have interest in re-signing free-agent eligibles Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, but for a shorter term than Lilly.
"I'll focus on 2011 and do everything I can to bring a championship to L.A.," he said. "The front office is working for that. Ownership is spending money and doing everything they can to make that happen."
Lilly, a two-time All-Star, is a native Californian. He was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1996, but as a Minor Leaguer was traded to Montreal in the 1998 Carlos Perez trade and pitched for six Major League teams before re-joining the Dodgers.
"He knows how to pitch and he was very successful with a lack of support," Colletti said of Lilly. "You trust that every day you'll get a sound effort out of him. He's won a lot of games the last few years. We'll take a veteran starter and there's the added bonus of his work with Kershaw and also with Billingsley. We had younger starting pitchers. With Ted's resume and ability to pitch, he had conversations with them and a willingness to help guys beyond his stats."
The Dodgers have had dreadful luck with multi-year contracts, especially for pitchers. The only ones they've granted larger than Lilly's were for Kevin Brown ($105 million), Darren Dreifort ($55 million), Jason Schmidt ($47 million), Derek Lowe ($36 million) and Kuroda ($35.3 million).
Lilly has reached double figures in victories in each of the past eight seasons, including 12 or more wins in six of the past eight, since 2003. The only other pitchers in the Major Leagues to have double figures in victories over the past eight consecutive seasons are CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Lowe, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, John Lackey and Javier Vazquez. Lilly owns a 113-96 career record and a 4.18 ERA in 12 seasons.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.