How Alex Rodriguez could become a Dodger.

Alex Rodriguez

What does Alex Rodriguez’s reported PED connection mean for his future with the Yankees? (AP Photo)

Alex Rodriguez was one of several major-leaguers linked to a Miami PED distributor in a report today by the Miami New Times. At least so far, he’s the only player whose team is attempting to void his contract as a result.

From MLBTradeRumors.com:

The Yankees are exploring multiple avenues to void their contract with Alex Rodriguez, several baseball sources told ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand.

The three-time American League MVP is owed $114MM over the next five seasons. An industry source says the Yankees “are looking at about 20 different things,” including whether A-Rod breached the contract by taking medical treatment from an outside doctor without the team’s authorization, and the possibility that he may have broken the law by purchasing controlled substances from the clinic.

If the Yankees do take action to 86 the remainder of the third baseman’s deal, they can’t do anything until the MLB investigation is concluded, according to a source.  For his part, Rodriguez has issued a statement denying the allegations.

If his contract is voided, could Rodriguez find his way to Chavez Ravine?

First, that’s a big “if.”

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Reports: Yankees sign Juan Rivera.

Juan RiveraJuan Rivera‘s days as a Dodger seemed over from the moment the final out of the season was recorded. The 34-year-old was a free agent and Ned Colletti already had a backup corner outfielder under contract in Jerry Hairston Jr. (and later, Skip Schumaker).

It became official Monday, with multiple reports out of New York that Rivera signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees, the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela 17 years ago.

In 109 games last season, Rivera batted .244 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs. It was a disappointing follow-up to his 62-game audition as a Dodger in 2011 (.274/.333/.406) in a year the Dodgers could have used him with injuries befalling Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and Shane Victorino, Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn Jr. doing little with their playing time.

The Dodgers purchased Rivera’s contract after he was designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 12, 2011, then got a one-year $4 million contract after the season. The Dodgers chose to buy out Rivera’s contract for $500,000 rather than exercise his option for 2013.

Report: Dodgers sign Michael Medina. [Video]

Baseball America reports that the Dodgers have signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Michael Medina for $275,000.

Writes Ben Badler:

Medina, who is from Santo Domingo and trained with Amauris Nina, is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and played in the International Prospect League all-star game last week. He showed a projectable frame with good bat speed from the right side, power and the ability to use the opposite field. He most likely projects as a corner outfielder, with a solid arm that could fit in right field.

Medina was one of the youngest players who became eligible to sign in 2012, as he didn’t turn 16 until Aug. 24. Had he been born a little more than a week later, he wouldn’t have been eligible to sign until July 2, 2013.

We found a YouTube clip of Medina taking batting practice at his International Prospect League tryout. Note that his date of birth here is listed as Aug. 12, 1996, 12 days earlier than Badler reported. Given that birthdate is such a sensitive issue in Medina’s case, this is not a minor detail. With or without batting gloves, you have to like this swing:

Tampa Bay Rays sign Jamey Wright to (another) minor-league deal.

Jamey Wright‘s deceptively steady career will continue in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Jamey WrightThe free agent right-hander signed a minor-league contract Tuesday with an invitation to spring training, the Rays announced.

The Dodgers let Wright become a free agent after he went 5-3 with a 3.72 earned-run average in 66 games out of the bullpen last season. The 38-year-old was second on the team in appearances (to Ronald Belisario) and games finished (to Kenley Jansen) after being slotted as a middle reliever to start the season.

Actually, Wright didn’t have a slot to start 2012. This is the eighth straight year he’ll enter camp as a non-roster invitee hoping for a major-league job. He beat out John Grabow for the final bullpen spot last year, but had even less of a chance in 2013 with right-handers Belisario, Jansen, Brandon League, Matt Guerrier, and Javy Guerra already on the 40-man roster. The Dodgers also poached free agent left-hander J.P. Howell from Tampa Bay and Wright’s historical success against lefties — no home runs in 139 plate appearances with a .252 batting average in 2012 — might mean he inherits Howell’s role out of the Rays’ bullpen.

A bigger incentive for Wright: He gets a shot with a perennial contender. In a 17-year career playing for nine teams, Wright has never pitched in a postseason game.

Reports: Dodgers interested in Scott Rolen.

How’s this for a rumor: The Dodgers are kicking the tires on a soon-to-be 38-year-old third baseman who might be retired by the time spring training rolls around.

Scott RolenScott Rolen is a free agent and a better defensive third baseman — at least historically — than Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz. So there’s the basis for a rumor. But …

The Dodgers’ 40-man roster is full, so you’d have to make room for Rolen somewhere (looking at you, 10 infielders) unless he is willing to sign a minor-league contract with a spring training invite. Given the opportunity to rule out retirement, Rolen hasn’t ruled out retirement. The Cincinnati Enquirer (click on the last link) reports that there isn’t much room for Rolen on the Reds’ roster either.

Rolen is represented by the same agency as A.J. Ellis, Brandon League and Aaron Harang, but the Dodgers reportedly haven’t approached agents Seth and Sam Levinson about Rolen.

The 1997 National League Rookie of the Year, Rolen batted .245/.318/.398 in 92 games last season. He missed nearly a month with a strained left shoulder last season, and only played 65 games in 2011 due to shoulder and back problems.

Daily Distractions: Minor-league invitees, HGH testing, Marcus Thames, coffee.

Yesterday, a Dodgers spokesperson emailed to pass along three new names of players signed to minor-league contracts with invitations to major-league camp: Right-handed pitcher Matt Palmer, catcher Elizier Alfonzo and infielder Brian Barden.

The Dodgers have also invited RHP Juan Abreu, LHP Kelvin De La Cruz, RHP Greg Infante, C Wilkin Castillo, C Ramon Castro, INF Alfredo Amezaga, INF Brian Barden, INF Omar Luna, INF Ozzie Martinez, INF Dallas McPherson, INF/OF Nick Evans and OF Jeremy Moore.

Teams can invite as many non-roster players as they want to spring training but must trim their major-league roster to 25 by opening day, April 1.

Some more distractions …
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers sign Dominican outfielder; more HOF; LaRoche re-signs in Washington.

A small but historic signing today. According to BaseballAmerica.com, the Dodgers have signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Ariel Sandoval for $150,000. Writes Ben Badler:

Sandoval is 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and impressed the Dodgers with his potential to hit for both average and power from the right side of the plate. He’s an above-average runner who should begin his career in center field, though he has the arm strength to play right field if he outgrows the position.

Sandoval, who became eligible to sign on July 2, trained in Haina with Jaime Ozuna. Sandoval is the first six-figure international amateur signing for the Dodgers since vice president of international scouting Bob Engle and Latin American coordinator Patrick Guerrero arrived from Seattle after the 2012 season.

Lots of Hall of Fame debate today with the final voting coming tomorrow. As I often say, there’s nothing like parsing through the moral crises of a bunch of cranky sports writers to start your morning off right …
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Dodgers make J.P. Howell signing official.

The Dodgers formally announced the signing of left-handed reliever J.P. Howell to a one-year contract worth a reported $2.85 million. JP HowellHowell fills the role that became vacant when Randy Choate signed a three-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 29-year-old Howell posted a 3.04 ERA in 55 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, the team he’s pitched for since 2006. Howell missed the entire 2010 season after having shoulder surgery, then came back to pitch 46 games in 2011. Over parts of seven big-league seasons, Howell has held lefties to a .241 batting average and righties to a .248 clip, making him slightly more valuable than the typical left-handed only specialist.

According to FanGraphs.com, Howell is an extreme junkballer. Last year he threw 24 fastballs among 816 total pitches, topping out at 88 mph. Howell relied more on his sinker (which opponents hit to a .267 batting average), slider (.167) and changeup (.250).

Howell gives the Dodgers 40 players on their 40-man roster.

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Reports: Hiroki Kuroda re-signs with Yankees.

The Dodgers can cross one name off the list available free-agent starting pitchers.

Hiroki KurodaRight-hander Hiroki Kuroda agreed to terms with the New York Yankees on a one-year contract Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The former Dodgers pitcher is the first big-name starter to leave the market, and his $15 million price tag (plus incentives) is significant.

It should come as very good news for free agents Anibal Sanchez and Zack Greinke, both of whom fit the profile of the second or third starter that the Dodgers are seeking. The 37-year-old Kuroda was looking for a short-term deal, but that’s not believed to be the case with the 29-year-old Greinke and the 28-year-old Sanchez. Both pitchers can probably command a better average annual value than Kuroda on the open market.

But that could also be good news for the Dodgers, baseball’s new big spenders, who may have the financial edge in any bidding war for Greinke and Sanchez this winter.

The hot stove is heating up.