Kemp Deal Figures to be the Only Big One

Matt Kemp will remain in the middle of the Dodgers lineup for another eight years But if he's going to get any protection around him, at least for 2012, it will need to come from the players on last year's roster. As owner Frank McCourt puts the Dodgers up for sale, Kemp's eight-year, $160 million contract will keep the team's biggest star in town for a long time.

General manager Ned Colletti went into the offseason hopeful of adding another stud hitter to the lineup, the obvious target being free agent Prince Fielder. Colletti's budget isn't as big as he once thought, because of the sale of the team, so Fielder or Albert Pujols won't be wearing Dodger Blue.

"As far as a big bat, as they say, we'll probably have to pass on that at this point," Colletti told reporters. "Unless something changes, it looks less realistic. We'll have to figure out other ways to produce runs -- the way Juan Rivera produced for us the second half. We need Juan Uribe to give us offense, and he didn't give us much.

"And we need Andre Ethier healthy. Any examination of our club (shows) their seasons were not indicative of their power and production. Andre and James Loney, they should be in the primes of their careers, and we expect them to have a better 2012 than 2011."

Loney was a non-tender candidate, or a trade candidate, if the Dodgers were able to sign one of the two big free agent first baseman. Now, Loney will return for his final season before free agency and try to build off an impressive final two months.

The Dodgers' Opening Day lineup will look something like this: Dee Gordon at shortstop, Mark Ellis at second base, Kemp in center field, Rivera in left field, Ethier in right field, Uribe at third base, Loney at first base and A.J. Ellis at catcher.

Colletti still needs to add a starting pitcher and perhaps a veteran relief pitcher. But he can fill out the roster with prospect Jerry Sands as the fourth outfielder and rookie Justin Sellers as the backup infielder and then try to comb the scrap heap for depth.

The good news for Colletti and the new owner is that there's a better free agent class after the 2012 season, especially among outfielders: Marlon Byrd, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Quentin, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino.

NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young award and a Gold Glove and will be due a massive bump in salary (He made $500,000 in 2011) since this will be his first year of salary arbitration. A long-term contract for Kershaw is possible, but it's not a pressing need, like signing Matt Kemp was, because Kershaw is still three years away from free agency.

--2B Mark Ellis signed a two-year contract for $8.75 million to stabilize the middle of the Dodgers infield. The 34-year-old Ellis' offense has dropped in recent years, but he's an above-average defender and his steady play will help shortstop Dee Gordon's development. Ellis' slash line of .274/.317/.392 in 263 at-bats with the Rockies to end the year was more in line with his career slash line, compared to the .217/.253/.290 slash line he posted in 217 at-bats with the A's to start the year.

--INF Justin Sellers is lined up to be the backup infielder. It's possible that general manager Ned Colletti re-signs Aaron Miles or another veteran such as Jerry Hairston, Jr. But he's comfortable with Sellers as the backup.

--C Matt Treanor was signed to a one-year contract for $850,000 with a $950,000 option for 2013 (or a buyout of $150,000). Treanor turns 36 during spring training. The most games he has started in a season is 67 with the 2010 Rangers, and he was C.J. Wilson's personal caddy for the playoffs. He's a .225 career hitter with stops in Florida (2004-08), Detroit (2009), Texas (2010-11) and Kansas City (2011). Treanor is probably best-known for being the husband of pro beach volleyball star Misty May-Treanor.

--C A.J. Ellis will get his long-awaited chance to be the starter, since newly signed C Matt Treanor is a 35-year-old career backup. Treanor's signing allows top catching prospect Tim Federowicz to begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque and get called up when he's ready. Ellis is 30, and the Dodgers were reluctant to let him be the backup catcher the last few years, signing Brad Ausmus in 2010 and Dioner Navarro in 2011. Now, they will allow him to be the starter.

--RHP Hiroki Kuroda hasn't told the Dodgers if he would re-sign with them, return to Japan or if he's weighing offers from other teams in the United States. Los Angeles has met with the agents for Aaron Harang and other options would be Chris Capuano or Jeff Francis.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Consecutive different Opening Day second baseman for the Dodgers, if Mark Ellis starts in 2012. It was Juan Uribe in 2011, Blake DeWitt in 2010, Orlando Hudson in 2009 and Jeff Kent in 2008. Kent started four years in a row (2005-08).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've made a choice and I am going to stick with it. It just got to a point where it became clear that it was the right thing to do. I'm at peace with it. It wasn't my first choice, but it is something I am now comfortable with." -- Owner Frank McCourt, on his decision to sell the Dodgers after two years of legal litigation with his ex-wife Jamie in divorce court and fighting with commissioner Bud Selig in bankruptcy court. --Sports Exchange

Roster Report
The Dodgers added pitchers Michael Antonini, Stephen Fife, Josh Wall and Chris Withrow as well as outfielder, Scott Van Slyke, Alfredo Silverio and Alex Castellanos to the 40-man roster.

The Dodgers acquired Antonini from the Mets for shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, Fife along with catcher Tim Federowicz and pitcher Juan Rodriguez from the Red Sox for Trayvon Robinson and Castellanos from the Cardnals for shortstop Rafael Furcal.

Removed from the roster were pitchers Jon Ely, Carlos Minasterios and outfielder Carlos Castellanos.

Eligible for Rule V Draft
The player list of eligibles for the 2011 Rule 5 draft starts with Ethan Martin, a first round pick in 2009 and is only 21 and one of the few power hitters in the Dodgers system, Kyle Russell. Martin was 19 years old when he signed and Russell still has a strikeout problem but we can't imagine either of them surviving the draft.

Others eligible include: Tony Delmonico, Jon Redding, Cole St. Claire, Nick Buss, Jordan Roberts, Austin Gallagher, Andres Santiago, Chris Jacobs, Griff Erickson, Justin Miller, Tim Sexton, Jamie Pedroza, Matt Wallach, David Pfeiffer, Jesse Mier, Pedro Baez, Geison Aguasviva, Rafael Ynoa, Carlos Frias, Bladimir Franco, Ramon Jean, Jose Dominguez, Daniel Tamares, Carlie Mirabal, Pedro Guerrero, Elian Herrera, Christian Lara, Albert Bastardo, Josh Walter, Steve Smith, Joseph Becker, Robert Booth

At the same time the Pirates designated OF Xavier Paul for assignment.

Current Dodgers Roster

Pitchers: Michael Antonini, Ronald Belisario, Chad Billingsley, Rubby De La Rosa, Scott Elbert, Stephen Fife, Nathan Eovaldi, Dana Eveland, Javy Guerra, Matt Guerrier, Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ted Lilly, Josh Lindblom, Ramon Troncoso, Josh Wall and Chris Withrow.

Catchers
A.J. Ellis, Tim Federowicz, Matt Treanor.

Infielders
Ivan De Jesus, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, James Loney, Russ Mitchell, Justin Sellers and Juan Uribe.

Outfielders
Alex Castellanos, Andre Ethier, Chris Gwynn, Jamie Hoffmann, Matt Kemp, Trent Oeltjen, Juan Rivera Jerry Sands, Alfredo Silverio and Scott Van Slyke.


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