Hot Stove League Burning Bright

The Dodgers have been active at the annual winter meetings, held at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. General Manager Ned Colletti has signed outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr., and re-signed RHP Vincente Padilla as well as searching for a regular catcher and relief pitching help.

The Dodgers agreed to terms with Tony Gwynn. After breaking a bone in his right hand in 2010 he played in 117 games and stole a career-high 17 bases. Defensively, he has outstanding range and can play any of the three outfield positions. "He's not a big-time bat that would shock the world," said Colletti, "but he's somebody I think we really need."

In 2009 he hit .270 with a .344 on-base percentage in San Diego's spacious outfield and he could do much better in Los Angeles. An excellent outfielder, he played center field for the Padres, and is expected to share time in left field with veteran Jay Gibbons although Gwynn likely will get the bulk of the starts.

Colletti pointed out he had two traits the Dodgers needed in speed and defense. Gywnn, 28, who grew up in California while his father starred for the Padres, has been a part-time player throughout his five major league seasons and has never reached 500 plate appearances in any one year. He has little power, his five career homers all having come during the past two seasons with the Padres, and he stole a career high 17 in 21 attempts in 2010.

Gwynn became a free agent when the Padres chose last week to non-tender him rather than go to arbitration. Gwynn would have been a first-year arbitration-eligible player after making just $419,800 last year. Financial terms of his new deal weren't immediately available.

Padilla officially rejoins the Dodgers as a swingman and agreed to a one-year contract for a guaranteed $2 million with as much as $8 million in incentives if he makes 33 starts or as much as $6 million in incentives based on relief workload.

The 34-year-old Padilla missed considerable time this year with injuries to a forearm nerve and his neck and went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 starts for the Dodgers last season. The Dodgers see him as an ideal swingman who could spot-start, pitch multiple innings of middle relief or fill in as a closer if Jonathan Broxton can't take the ball or get the job done.

Padilla joins starters Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland in the crowded starting rotation. Colletti has watched injuries devastate his staff, so he's loading up on pitchers. "I'm trying to find out when we have too many," he said half-joking. "I haven't had too many yet."

Winter Meeting Notes --Russell Martin turned turned down the Dodgers offer because they insisted on cutting his 2010 guaranteed salary from the $5.05 million. The Dodgers' final offer was a guaranteed $4.2 million with incentives worth from $1.5 million to $1.7 million if he played in 125 games. Martin was rumored to have wanted a guaranteed $5.5 million, a raise of nearly 10 percent. Martin, 27, is recovering from a broken right hip and isn't able to run yet, let alone begin baseball activities. Nevertheless, the Dodgers kept their offer on the table. Martin has been contacted by the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays but it is doubtful he will get the money the Dodgers offered because it is unclear whether he can still be an everyday catcher. None of the teams he has been linked to are in the market for a full-time catcher.

-- The Dodgers have made at least one contact with Kansas City at this week's winter meetings, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said and although Colletti wouldn't identify what players were discussed, it was about the same player the Royals are asked about these days, former American League Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke. He is signed through 2012 for $27 million over the next two seasons are they are looking for a large package of players in return. The Dodgers aren't in a position to deal multiple major league players for one starting pitcher.

--The Dodgers have reached agreement on a minor league contract with Trent Oeltjen, a seldom-used outfielder from Australia, agreed to terms on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league spring training. The Dodgers signed Oeltjen on July 6, four days after he was released by Milwaukee, and promoted him on Sept. 7 from Triple-A Albuquerque to the majors, where he hit .217 with a .357 on-base percentage in 14 games for the Dodgers.

--Wade Taylor, a teammate of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly with the Yankees in 1991, has been hired by the Dodgers as their new advance scout. Taylor, 45, replaces Mark Weidemaier, the Dodgers' longtime advance scout who left the organization after the season to accept a similar position with Arizona. Taylor spent the past four seasons as a pro scout for Washington and before that, he served as an advance scout for the Yankees for 11 seasons while Joe Torre was the team's manager. Mattingly was the Yankees' hitting or bench coach for much of that time. Taylor, a right-hander, made 23 appearances (22 starts) in the majors, all of them with the Yankees in 1991. He went 7-12 with a 6.27 ERA.

--The Dodgers are in negotiations on a minor league contract with longtime major league infielder Juan Castro, who could be joining the Dodgers for a record fourth appearance. Castro played in one game for the Dodgers on Aug. 15 after being released by the Phillies, then was sent to the minors.

--The Dodgers hired Bill Latham, formerly of the Red Sox, as a pro scout.

--Larry Bowa won't be a part of the Mets coaching staff despite the fact he previously coached under new Mets manager Terry Collins with the Anaheim Angels in the late 1990s, a Mets source said. However, longtime Dodgers minor league coach Jon Debus said he will be a part of Collins' staff as bullpen coach. Debus and Collins became close when Collins was running the Dodgers minor league system, and Debus became the bench coach for the Orix Buffaloes when Collins became their manager in 2007. Debus also served as the Dodgers bullpen coach under then-manager Jim Tracy in 2005. Tracy, now the manager of the Rockies, was released from an Orlando-area hospital and returned to his home near Sarasota. Tracy had been transported to the hospital by ambulance after he collapsed in the hotel lobby on Monday morning. Tracy was diagnosed with a mild arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

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