Dodgers Swap Ryan Theriot to Cardinals 

Before the ink was quite dry on the Juan Uribe contract, the Dodgers traded Ryan Theriot to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-handed reliever Blake Hawksworth. Today is the deadline for offering arbitration and catcher Russell Martin will probably become a free agent unless he is signed in a last-minute deal.

         Theriot was an arbitration-eligible player the Dodgers clearly would have non-tendered on because he made $2.6 million last year and hit just .242 with six extra-base hits after the Dodgers acquired him from the Chicago White Sox on July 31. So instead of getting nothing for Theriot, the Dodgers got Hawksworth, who also could be a swingman if one of the club's starting pitchers suffers an injury.

"We felt this was a really good fit for us," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "This is not necessarily the last move we're going to make between now and Opening Day, but if we did have to start today he would likely be our shortstop."

Theriot, 30, batted .242 with one home run and eight RBI in 54 games with the Dodgers last season after he was acquired along with Ted Lilly from the Cubs at the July 31 trade deadline in exchange for Blake DeWitt and two minor league pitchers. The Louisiana native batted .270 with two home runs and 29 RBI in 150 combined games in 2010.

Hawksworth, who will turn 28 in spring training, is coming off his first full season in the majors. He is a virtual lock to be part of the Dodgers' bullpen in 2011 because he is out of minor league options, and he likely will be a fixture there for years to come because he isn't arbitration-eligible until after the 2012 season.

"His versatility was appealing to us," Colletti said. "He can start. He can pitch more than one inning [out of the bullpen]. He can be reliable as a short man or a long man. He was outstanding in 2009, and then he slipped a little bit, but we think we can get him back to where he was. Blake adds Major League experience to our staff."

Hawksworth made his Major League debut on June 6, 2009 at Colorado and went 4-0 over 30 relief appearances in his rookie season, leading National League rookies (min. 30.0 IP) with a 2.03 ERA and tying for third among NL rookies with a .209 opponents' batting average. He also ranked third among NL rookies with a .324 opponents' slugging percentage. In his only postseason experience, he tossed a scoreless inning of relief in Game 1 of the NLDS at Los Angeles.  

In 2010, Hawksworth went 4-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 45 games (eight starts), making 11 relief appearances of 2.0 or more innings and posting a 2.84 ERA (8 ER/25.1 IP) in those outings.

The British Columbia, Canada native will become the seventh Canadian-born player in Los Angeles Dodger history, joining Russell Martin (2006-present), Paul Quantrill (2002-03), Eric Gagne (1999-2006), Steve Wilson (1991-93), Tim Harkness (1961-62) and Bill Harris (1959).  

Hawksworth made 120 starts in 124 minor league games from 2002-09 and was selected as the Cardinals' 2006 Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 11-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 27 combined starts with Single-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. Hawksworth was originally selected by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of Eastlake High School in Sammamish, WA and signed in 2002 after a season at Bellevue (WA) Community College.

Martin May Test Free Agent Waters

The deadline for teams to tender offers to their arbitration-eligible players is 9 p.m. PST on Thursday (tonight). Unless Russell Martin agrees to a contract that would pay him far less than the $5.05 million the Dodgers paid him in 2010, the Dodgers are almost certain not to tender him, which would make Martin a free agent.

Russell Martin

"All I know is that we have had many conversations," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, who declined to elaborate.

The Dodgers clearly aren't going to go through the arbitration process with Martin, whose offensive numbers have dropped off each of the past three seasons and who missed the final two months of 2010 with a hip injury, because that would result in him receiving a sizable raise. But while the Dodgers are keeping tabs on almost all of the numerous free-agent catchers who still are available, they don't have an obvious replacement for Martin.

The Dodgers may be playing Russian Roulette since the only other catchers presently on their 40-man roster are A.J. Ellis, who has caught 53 games in the majors, and Hector Gimenez, who has yet to catch a game in the majors.

Colletti traded (sold?) their #1 catching prospect, Carlos Santana, to Cleveland in lieu of paying the rest of his $2 million contract and swapped minor league catcher Lucas May to Kansas City for outfielder Scott Podsednik, who was not tendered. Santana could start for the Indians and May might be the Royals starting catcher in 2011.

There is a remote chance that the clock will run out on Martin before the deadline, because if the Dodgers reach an agreement with another primary catcher before that deadline, they no longer will need Martin. The Dodgers also could still sign Martin even after the deadline passes, but the passing of the deadline would leave him free to sign elsewhere.