Dodgers ink catcher Treanor to one-year deal
Pact includes option; Kemp to be confirmed by Thanksgiving
MILWAUKEE -- The Dodgers continued their aggressive roster makeover Tuesday, confirming the signing of backup catcher Matt Treanor only hours after the signing of second baseman Mark Ellis -- with confirmation of Matt Kemp's megabucks extension expected to be confirmed "before Thanksgiving," according to general manager Ned Colletti.
But Colletti virtually ruled out the addition of a big bat like Prince Fielder while conceding the Dodgers payroll likely will be cut from this year's $110 million. Colletti still needs a starting pitcher and doesn't know if he'll have the $12 million it will probably take to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda. Chris Capuano, Jeff Francis and Aaron Harang are possible replacements on the club's radar.
"It probably won't be as much as last year," Colletti said of the payroll. "Not if things stay the same. As far as a big bat, as they say, we'll probably have to pass on that at this point."
Treanor will receive a guaranteed one-year contract for $850,000 plus an option for 2013 or buyout of $150,000. The Dodgers were looking for a replacement for Rod Barajas, who left last week for a $4 million deal with Pittsburgh and had inquired about free agent Ryan Doumit, but never made an offer after hearing his asking price.
Treanor is a defensive-oriented catcher who Colletti said would serve as a veteran backstop, as well as a mentor, to second-year catcher A.J. Ellis and rookie Tim Federowicz. Treanor will be 36 in March.
"We want to continue to go strong up the middle defensively," said Colletti. "When you look at the two offensive catchers [presumably Barajas and Doumit], one is overpaid and the other you're not sure where you come out on him. Treanor is a catch-and-throw type who can help our two young catchers.
"I met with him a week ago in Manhattan Beach, and he reminded me a lot of Brad [Ausmus]. He has a good feel for leading a pitching staff and the priorities of defense in catching. I see him catching 50 games, with A.J. starting the season for us and Federowicz at Triple-A, although you never know what happens in the spring. That's how we see it right now."
Treanor hit .214 with three homers and 22 RBIs this year in 72 games between the Royals and Rangers. He threw out 25 percent of attempted basestealers. He earned $850,000 last year.
Mark Ellis, meanwhile, said he wanted to play in the West near his Scottsdale home and had no hesitation joining a club for sale in bankruptcy. He signed for two years plus an option and $8.75 million.
"I understand there will probably be a new owner," Ellis said. "It's fine with me. I want to be on a big team. I'm not worried about it. I understand all the stuff that went on this year. You can't play and not hear about it. But I feel there's a good chance we'll be a very good team."
Ellis said the Dodgers showed serious interest even before they lost Jamey Carroll to the Minnesota Twins last week. He said he signed quickly after watching peers pass up lucrative offers in hopes of greater riches that never materialized.
"I learned watching the last couple of years," he said. "They waited around and ended up without jobs."
He added that he understands the Dodgers are focusing on pitching and defense, and he's all for that.
"I've seen how good their pitching is, and that's all I've really known, coming from Oakland where they had [Tim] Hudson, [Mark] Mulder and [Barry] Zito when I started," he said. "They throw strikes and get outs."
Colletti said he also met with Ellis last week and sees him playing about 130 games during the season to avoid breaking down. Ellis said 135-140 was in his sights.
"People think of me as a good defensive player, and I take a lot of pride in my defense, but I think I can help offensively as well," he said.
Colletti said Ellis' signing also was made with the intent of tightening up defense up the middle. He also projects as a logical No. 2 hitter who can handle the bat behind speedy leadoff hitter Dee Gordon and ahead of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.