Dodgers buy out contracts of Garland, Blake
L.A. declines to exercise options on veteran pitcher, infielder
LOS ANGELES -- On Tuesday the Dodgers declined to exercise 2012 options on pitcher Jon Garland and infielder Casey Blake, both of whom underwent season-ending operations in 2011.
The club also outrighted infielder Eugenio Velez -- who ended the season with a record-breaking hitless streak -- to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Garland, 32, was signed to be the Dodgers' innings-eating fifth starter, having never previously been on the disabled list. He went 1-5 in nine starts before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on July 11.
Garland received $5 million this year and had an $8 million option for 2012 that would have vested if he pitched 190 innings. Instead, the Dodgers will pay a $500,000 buyout. That clause was an indication that both parties were aware of damage that might prevent Garland from finishing the season healthy.
On the final homestand of the season, Garland said his recovery was ahead of schedule, and that he intended to begin throwing in November. The veteran expected to be healthy by Spring Training.
Blake, 38, was expected to be the everyday third baseman but played hurt over virtually the entire 2011 season. He had a strained oblique muscle in Spring Training, developed a mysterious staph infection in his left elbow during the season and was finally felled with an arthritic neck that required surgery to open the spinal passage for a pinched nerve. He said he intends to continue playing.
Blake was in the final year of a three-year, $17.5-million contract with a $6-million option for next season. Instead, the team will pay him a $1.25 million buyout. He was limited to 63 games, a .252 average, four homers and 26 RBIs.
The moves don't preclude the Dodgers from re-signing either player at lower base salaries with performance bonuses, but neither would be counted on for significant roles. In Blake's case, he could be a backup corner infielder and pinch-hitter.
As for Velez, he was taken off the roster a week after setting Major League records for futility. Velez went 0-for-37 in 2011, and is 0-for-46 stretching over the past two seasons.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.