Dodgers in pursuit of veteran catcher, infielders
With Barajas gone and Carroll likely departing, positions open
LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates' signing of Rod Barajas Thursday could mean the Dodgers will go young behind the plate, but they definitely will go cheap.
The Dodgers passed on re-signing Barajas when the Pirates were willing to pay him $4 million, a raise from the $3.25 million he was paid in 2011. Barajas is a Type B free agent, meaning Los Angeles will receive a supplemental Draft pick as compensation. Barajas hit .230 with 16 home runs in 2011.
Losing Barajas doesn't necessarily mean the club will entrust the catching duties to the young duo of A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. It's not general manager Ned Colletti's style to go into Spring Training without a veteran option at virtually every position, especially behind the plate.
The Dodgers are therefore in the market for a modestly priced journeyman to team with Ellis while Federowicz gets Triple-A seasoning, unless the latter shows enough advancement from his brief September call-up during Spring Training to win a job. Among the list of free-agent catchers is Jose Molina.
Colletti will head to the General Managers' Meetings next week in Milwaukee also in pursuit of a starting second baseman and utility infielder. The Dodgers' current roster is pretty thin in candidates there, with middle infielders Justin Sellers and Ivan DeJesus and corner infielder Russell Mitchell. Sellers is most likely to make the club because he can play shortstop and back up Dee Gordon, but the question is whether he'll have enough offense to start.
"We have to look at second base closely," Colletti said.
The Dodgers haven't ruled out re-signing Jamey Carroll or Aaron Miles. Miles is probably more likely to return than Carroll, who is looking for a starting job.
Los Angeles, apparently frozen out of the Albert Pujols/Prince Fielder market with the team for sale, might find an offensive-oriented infielder like Aaron Hill more attractive, especially if Miles doesn't return. The Dodgers have also been in contact with the agents for Clint Barmes, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mark Ellis, among others.
Starting pitching is another area where the Dodgers might need help if Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, which is still a possibility. Free-agent starters known to be on the club's radar include Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Jeff Francis. The club is not believed to be interested in re-signing Jon Garland or Vicente Padilla, who suffered season-ending injuries this year.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.