Just filed these for tomorrow’s paper, updates on Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, CC Sabathia and Manny Ramirez and a bonus note on Trevor Hoffman/Takashi Saito.
By Tony Jackson
LAS VEGAS — Although all indications are that the Dodgers are close to re-signing free-agent third baseman Casey Blake to a contract believed to be worth about $17 million over three years, general manager Ned Colletti said Monday night that there was no agreement and that he didn’t plan to meet with Blake’s representatives again until today.
“We have had continuing discussions over the last few days,” Colletti said. “We had a long get-together on Saturday before we came (to the winter meetings). Hopefully, we’re getting closer (to an agreement).”
Blake’s options apparently were narrowed last week to the Dodgers and Minnesota, something Colletti confirmed that Blake’s agent, Jim McDowell, had told him. But the Twins pulled out over the weekend after Blake reportedly spurned their two-year offer, with an option for 2011, that would have paid Blake $12 million through 2010.
The Dodgers’ willingness to guarantee a third year probably was the determining factor in their ability to retain Blake, whom they acquired from the Cleveland Indians on July 26 and who hit .251 with 10 homers and 23 RBI after that trade.
Signing Blake would mean Blake DeWitt, who had a solid rookie season for the Dodgers and was their primary third baseman before Blake was acquired, will move to second base to replace Jeff Kent. That would leave shortstop as the Dodgers’ only remaining infield hole, and the club still has hope of re-signing free agent Rafael Furcal.
Furcal is seeking a four-year contract, something Colletti said the Dodgers aren’t willing to give him. But Furcal turned down a four-year offer from Oakland, believed to be for $35 million to $40 million, over the weekend. The Dodgers probably won’t offer more than two years, presumably because of Furcal’s inability to stay healthy over the past couple of seasons and because club officials believe top shortstop prospect Ivan De Jesus Jr. will be ready to take over the position by 2011 if not sooner.
Colletti met with Furcal’s representatives on Monday, a fact that in itself was a sign of progress because the Dodgers had all but given up on him.
“(The talks were) cordial, and perhaps there is more to discuss,” Colletti said. “As of three weeks ago, I didn’t think there was anything to discuss.”
Colletti stopped short of saying he wouldn’t give Furcal more than two years.
“It all depends on how it’s structured and what it entails,” Colletti said.
Colletti cleared up a misunderstanding after it was widely reported that left-hander CC Sabathia, the top free-agent pitcher on this year’s market, had told him he wants to pitch for the Dodgers. What Colletti actually said was that Sabathia had made the Dodgers aware, not directly but through conversations with third parties, that he had a desire to pitch for them.
Sabathia’s failure to accept a six-year, $140 million offer from the New York Yankees, an offer that has been on the table for about three weeks, seems to indicate that he has no desire to pitch in New York. Sabathia grew up in Vallejo and recently purchased a home in Southern California, facts that might indicate the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are the two clubs with the inside track.
However, the Dodgers are highly unlikely to sign Sabathia until they have a complete infield because given Sabathia’s price tag, signing him might deplete the club’s financial resources to the point that other needs couldn’t be adequately addressed.
Colletti did say Sabathia is enticing enough that the Dodgers would be willing to break from their recent tradition of offering no more than a three-year contract to any pitcher.
Colletti continued to express annoyance at the fact that Manny Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, still hasn’t been in communication regarding the free-agent outfielder since the Dodgers made a two-year, $45 million offer. That offer which carries a club option for 2011, was made more than a month ago and later rescinded. But the fact no other club is known to be strongly pursuing Ramirez could be an indication there isn’t much of a market for him and that he could eventually fall back into the Dodgers’ laps. …
Colletti said the Dodgers had some interest in free-agent closer Trevor Hoffman, but only if the club doesn’t offer a contract to Takashi Saito, who battled elbow problems this season and whose health remains a question. Saito, who will turn 39 in February, made $2 million last season and is eligible for arbitration. But the Dodgers are highly unlikely to go to a hearing with him if he doesn’t agree to terms.