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Ledee Here, Hernandez Gone, Lima ... ?
2004-12-06 21:58
by Jon Weisman

The offseason is picking up steam ...

  • Tuesday is the deadline for teams to offer their free agents salary arbitration. Ken Gurnick of explains what this means:

    Clubs that don't offer arbitration to their free agents by 9 p.m. PT Tuesday lose all rights to negotiate with - or sign - those players until May 1. This effectively ends a player's relationship with his 2004 team.

    Once offered arbitration, players have until Dec. 19 to accept or reject salary arbitration. If the player accepts arbitration, he will return to the team for at least one year. If he rejects arbitration, the team can continue negotiations until Jan. 8. Perhaps more importantly, by offering arbitration, a club receives draft pick compensation if the player is signed by another team.

    The Dodgers will offer arbitration to Adrian Beltre. (Dodger general manager Paul) DePodesta would not be specific, but he is likely to offer arbitration to Finley, Odalis Perez and Wilson Alvarez. Not expected to be offered arbitration are Elmer Dessens, Jose Hernandez, Todd Hundley, Jose Lima, Brent Mayne, Hideo Nomo, Paul Shuey and Ventura. DePodesta said one decision was still to be made and there were indications that player was Lima, who is seeking a longer term than the Dodgers are offering.

    Steve Henson offers a similar list in the Times. It's unlikely that Finley or Perez would accept arbitration when there is reportedly a multiyear market for them, but Alvarez could. And as Gurnick writes, a player rejecting arbitration does not mean that any of the three won't end up in a Dodger uniform in 2005.

    Lima and Hernandez are the most significant names on the non-tender list. A Lima rejection would a) thin out the already near-transparent Dodger starting rotation and/or b) indicate that DePodesta has more substantial names in mind. His departure will also raise the hackles of the "There goes the spirit of the Dodgers" crowd, but even as someone who swooned over Lima at the end of the season, let me tell you that that crowd would be nowhere to be found were Lima to revert to mediocrity - probably an inevitable event, given his career inconsistency and shaky strikeout totals, if he's given a three-year contract (or even a two-year).

    A farewell to Hernandez, the leading OPS man at second base last season in the major leagues for players with 200 or more at bats, raises similar questions. It puts more pressure on Alex Cora and/or Antonio Perez, or indicates that Los Angeles plans to acquire a bigtime second baseman.

    * * *

    Ricky Ledee's signing with the Dodgers became official after all - and at a greater commitment than one would have imagined: $2.5 million total for two years. How do we explain it? Defensive value? Inflation? Not sure. I'll say this: If he's this offseason's Juan Encarnacion mistake, then it's a less costly one. Otherwise, not particularly excited about it.

    * * *

    Henson's lead note in Tuesday's editions of the Times is that Dodger owner Frank McCourt is borrowing another $100 million.

    Henson indicates why this might be a good thing:

    If the loan goes through, McCourt might pay off some of the $196 million he owes the previous Dodger owner, News Corp. That loan has early buy-down incentives. Some of the money also could go toward capital improvements at and around Dodger Stadium.

    Henson indicates why this might be a bad thing:

    To purchase the Dodgers, McCourt borrowed $196 million from News Corp., secured by real estate he owns in Boston. He borrowed the remainder of the $421 million purchase price and did not use any of his own cash.

    Doug Pappas, we miss ye yet again.

    * * *

    In his weekly mailbag column, Gurnick reports that former Dodgers Bob Welch and Steve Yeager are returning to coach in the team's minor league system.

    And this just in: Dodger bench coach Jim Riggleman has crossed the handshake lines and taken a job with St. Louis as minor-league field coordinator, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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