Daily Distractions: Let the free agency period begin.

Red Sox fans

Boston Red Sox fans celebrate the start of free agency Wednesday night. (Associated Press photo)

The World Series is over, making ringbearers of the Red Sox and free agents of dozens of players around baseball.

The Dodgers will have at least 10: Ricky Nolasco, Michael Young, Juan Uribe, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston, Edinson Volquez, Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson. Per MLB rules, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with each player up until midnight Eastern Time Monday, after which all are free to sign with any club.

Sometime within the next five days, general manager Ned Colletti and staff must ultimately decide whether or not to extend these players a qualifying offer, a guaranteed contract for 2014 equal to the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players. This year, that’s $14.1 million.

The potential risk every team faces in extending a qualifying offer is that the player will accept the offer and receive more money than he would by testing the open market. The potential reward is twofold: 1, you might re-sign the player at a discount compared to his open-market value; 2, if the player doesn’t accept the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere, your team receives a first-round draft pick in 2014 from the team that does sign the player.

Of the Dodgers’ 10 free agents, Nolasco is the only viable candidate to receive a qualifying offer. He made $11.5 million last year. What’s another $2.6 million? That’s the, um, $2.6 million question that’s been floating around the front offices at Chavez Ravine this month. The answer should be an easy one: Since Nolasco didn’t begin the year with the Dodgers, they won’t receive any draft-pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

More on him, and the other free agents, later today.

We should also note here that Chris Capuano and Mark Ellis have options for 2014 in their contracts. Capuano’s is a mutual option for $8 million with a $1 million buyout; Ellis’ is a $5.75 million club option with a $1 million buyout. If the team declines the option on both players, that’s a dirty dozen Dodgers destined to hit the free-agent market.

Some bullet points for an Allantide morning:
Continue reading

Five Dodgers are among the Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalists.

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis dives for a ground ball in a June game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press photo)

Third baseman Juan Uribe, catcher A.J. Ellis, second baseman Mark Ellis, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Zack Greinke are finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions.

The finalists were announced Friday morning. Winners will be announced on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday.

The Dodgers’ five finalists are second only to the Baltimore Orioles, who have six. The Kansas City Royals also have five Gold Glove Award finalists.

Continue reading

Dodgers, Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero agree on 4-year, $28 million deal.

Ending months of speculation, the Dodgers have agreed to sign Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a 4-year, $28 million contract.

The contract includes a $10 million signing bonus and is expected to be announced by the Dodgers as soon as this afternoon.

Guerrero, 26, gained a reputation as a power hitter in Cuba despite his small frame (listed at 5-10, 200 pounds). He batted .302 in eight national tournaments for Cuba. In his final full season in Cuba (2011-12), he hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 home runs for Las Tunas in Serie Nacional, Cuba’s top league. The following postseason, Guerrero hit .240/.296/.480 with one home run and five RBIs.

It’s unclear how those numbers would translate to Major League Baseball, and some observers have questioned whether he is ready for a full-time major league job. He projects as a second baseman, which doesn’t bode well for Mark Ellis if Guerrero is ready to take over at the position.

The Dodgers hold an option for 2014 on Ellis for $5.75 million. By signing Guerrero, the Dodgers appear more likely to exercise the $1 million buyout in Ellis’ contract.

The 36-year-old Ellis is a lifetime .265/.330/.390 hitter who has carved out an 11-year major-league career with his glove. His .9907 fielding percentage as a second baseman is fifth all-time.
Continue reading