Finley, Lima Not Offered Arbitration

The Dodgers did not offer arbitration to Steve Finley and Jose Lima, players who made huge contributions to the team's division championship, as well as catcher Todd Hundley, pitchers Hideo Nomo and Paul Shuey as well as infielder Jose Hernandez. INF Robin Ventura retired. Among the 12 Dodger free agents, Adrian Beltre, Brent Mayne and pitchers Odalis Perez and Wilson Alvarez were offered arbitration. They have until Dec. 19 to accept it, which would ensure their return for at least one year.

Pitcher Elmer Dessens signed a one-year contract for a reported $1.3 million with a mutual option. Dessens, 33, posted a 1-0 record and 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings for the Dodgers last season after being acquired from the Diamondbacks on Aug. 19. Overall, he appeared in 50 games (10 starts) in 2004 and registered 73 strikeouts and a 4.46 ERA in 105.0 innings. Among all National League relievers, Dessens ranked seventh with a 2.25 ERA (15 ER/60.0 IP) and 10th by limiting opposing batters to a .279 on base percentage.
Dessens became the 15th player in Dodger history to hail from Mexico when he made his debut on Aug. 22, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing one earned run while striking out four batters.
Bench coach Jim Riggleman accepted an offer to be the Cardinals Minor League Field Coordinator. The Dodgers are expected to fill the vacancy from within.
The Dodgers certainly knew what they were getting when they acquired Milton Bradley and all his emotional baggage from the Cleveland Indians last spring. If they didn't, they had ample reminders during his first season as a Dodger -- including four ejections, two suspension, confrontations with umpires, fans and reporters and, most recently, an arrest for interfering with a traffic stop in Ohio.
But GM Paul DePodesta voiced support for Bradley after his most recent incident and said the volatile outfielder remains a key component in the Dodgers' lineup.
"We're more focused on Milton as a person than as a ballplayer right now," DePodesta said. "We know he's attending his counseling sessions and taking them seriously. It's something he's said he knows he needs and probably needs to do for a long time. It's not something where he's going to go two or three times and be quote-unquote 'cured' by the start of spring training."
DePodesta said he expected Bradley to be the Dodgers' center fielder in 2005, a sign that the Dodgers GM doesn't expect to re-sign free agent Steve Finley. Bradley moved to the corner outfield spots at midseason to accommodate the arrival of Finley in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers GM also said he has had to fend off a handful of trade overtures regarding Bradley as teams look to acquire him cheaply in the belief that the Dodgers would gladly get rid of his potential for controversy and distraction.
"It really hasn't been something we've actively explored at all," DePodesta said, characterizing the trade talks as "not all that legitimate in that they are bottom-feeding to some degree."

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Jose Lima might have to pay as much as $950,000 to a woman who claims she contracted genital herpes from him in 2003. A civil jury in Houston last week awarded the woman, Michelle E. Rudolph, $475,000 for assault and $475,000 for negligence on Lima's part. Lima's attorney said his client did not know he had the condition at the time he was dating Rudolph, and he plans to appeal the decision.
--The Dodgers announced that they had reached agreement on an eight-year contract for local broadcast rights with KCAL, beginning in 2006. The contract (for approximately 50 games per season) returns the Dodgers to their former local TV home and ensures them a raise over their current $8 million per season in local broadcast revenue. Not coincidentally, it also puts the Angels in a difficult position. The Angels are currently televised by KCAL, but their contract runs out after the 2005 season. Angels owner Arte Moreno has flirted with changing his team's name to the Los Angeles Angels, in part, as an attempt to increase its appeal and as a result broadcast revenues.
--OF Jayson Werth began a throwing program and reported no problems with his right elbow. Werth strained a ligament in his elbow during the final weeks of the 2004 season and aggravated it during the Dodgers' playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals. There was some concern that he might need ligament-replacement surgery of the "Tommy John" variety, but the Dodgers are optimistic he will be able to recover without the operation.

BY THE NUMBERS:-- .241, 6 HRs, 18 RBI -- OF Milton Bradley's statistics after a midseason trade brought Steve Finley to LA (and forced Bradley to move out of CF). Bradley hit .283 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI before the trade.

QUOTE TO NOTE: --"I never want to rule out any possibility when you like a player and there's a need." -- GM Paul DePodesta on free-agent C Jason Varitek and the Dodgers' glaring hole at catcher.

ROSTER REPORT-- The success or failure of GM Paul DePodesta's efforts to upgrade the 2004 NL West champions in his first offseason with the team might hinge on one player -- free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltré. DePodesta has said re-signing Beltré is his top priority, but he will have to deal with high-powered agent Scott Boras in order to get it done. Boras is not likely to make it easy (or cheap) for the Dodgers to retain Beltré, which means the negotiations might drag on deep into the winter. DePodesta has said he won't let that hinder his attempts to address the Dodgers' other areas of need -- mainly, starting pitching and a new catcher. ARRIVALS: --The Dodgers signed Ricky Ledee as a backup outfielder and a left-handed pinch-hitter. BIGGEST NEEDS: --While free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltré is the most crucial individual in the Dodgers' offseason, starting pitching and a catcher rank as their greatest needs heading into 2005. The Dodgers' rotation all but collapsed in the final two months of the 2004 season, and only RHP Jose Lima acquitted himself well in the team's brief playoff cameo. Brad Penny (biceps nerve irritation) will enter 2005 with health questions to answer. Other than that, the Dodgers' rotation projects to be filled out by Jeff Weaver, Kazuhisa Ishii and unproven Edwin Jackson. Look for DePodesta to attempt to add two new names to that list. Catching, meanwhile, became a black hole after the midseason trade of Paul Lo Duca left it in the hands of David Ross and Brent Mayne. That must be addressed for 2005.
Re-signing Beltré is the Dodgers' top offseason priority, GM Paul DePodesta has said. It will cost them after his MVP-caliber season, but they are helped by the fact that most teams willing to spend big money are not in the market for a third baseman this winter. OF Steve Finley becomes a high priority only if Beltré leaves and the Dodgers need to make up the lost offense throughout their lineup. The Dodgers are also likely to retain relatively inexpensive pitchers Jose Lima and Wilson Alvarez. Odalis Perez seems intent on leaving. The rest of the players on this list are of little interest to the Dodgers (or most other teams).
ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE:-- RHP Eric Gagné, RHP Brad Penny, OF Milton Bradley, INF Olmedo Saenz, 2B Alex Cora, SS Cesar Izturis, RHP Giovanni Carrara.
Gagné was an angry man last winter when he lost his arbitration case despite having just won the Cy Young Award. He would like the Dodgers to come to him with a multiyear contract offer but has little or no leverage to make that happen. It ranks fairly low on the Dodgers' offseason priorities, and if they're not willing to do it for Gagné, none of the other players on this list should hold their breath for more than a modest one-year offer to avoid arbitration. Saenz, however, is the only one who should worry about non-tender status.
IN LIMBO: 1B-RF Shawn Green, LHP Kazuhisa Ishii.-- Green is entering the final year of a six-year deal that will pay him $16 million in 2005. Green's production (particularly his power numbers and clutch hitting) has dropped off in the last two seasons, leaving him seriously overpaid. The Dodgers would love to get out from under the last year of that contract, but Green has no-trade rights. In Ishii's case, the Dodgers have tired of the erratic left-hander's inconsistency and would gladly move him. But Ishii can veto trades to a list of 10 teams and might have limited market value.
< b>MEDICAL WATCH:< /b>--3B Adrian Beltré (recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from left ankle), should be ready for spring training; OF Jayson Werth (strained tendon in right elbow, hoping to rehabilitate without surgery) is starting to throw; C Todd Hundley (recovering from hip and back surgeries), didn't play in 2004 and not likely to play in 2005; RHP Darren Dreifort (recovering from hip and knee surgeries), not likely to play until late in 2005); RHP Paul Shuey (recovering from hip surgery), not likely to play in 2005.

OFFSEASON NOTES
SEVERAL DODGERS SEEKING HALL PASS -- The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced the 25 former players whose names will appear on the Veteran's Committee ballot in 2005 and several former Dodger greats are among those included. Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe and Maury Wills top the list of potential honorees, while Dick Allen, Ken Boyer and Rocky Colavito also wore a Dodger uniform at some point in their distinguished careers. The final candidates were selected by a committee of 60 BBWAA members and each writer was asked to select 25 individuals from a list of 200 players. Simultaneously, a six-member screening committee of Hall of Fame members independently selected five players, each of whom were already selected by the writers. In 2003, the last time the Veteran's Committee voted, Hodges was the closest to election, receiving 61 percent of the vote. Seventy-five percent is needed for induction into Cooperstown. Results of the 85-member panel voting will be announced on March 2, 2005. FERNANDOMANIA STRIKES AGAIN -- Dodger Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela has been filling his offseason by pitching for Mexicali of the Mexican Pacific League. The southpaw had his most recent start rained out on Sunday, but in three starts he has posted a 1-0 record and 3.00 ERA (4 ER/12.0 IP). As they did in 1981 when he broke into the big leagues, fans have flocked to see Valenzuela pitch for the Aguilas, and he earned his first victory on Nov. 28 with five strong innings against Hermosillo. GUZ-MANIA, TOO -- Valenzuela isn't the only one enjoying success during winter ball, as Dodger shortstop prospect Joel Guzman is currently tied for eighth in the Dominican League with a .302 average while playing for the Estrellas. Infielder Brian Myrow, who is playing for Escogido and was recently added to the Dodgers' 40-man roster, is tied for third in the league with 20 runs scored. Myrow was acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Tanyon Sturtze. DUNLAP PAYING DIVIDENDS QUICKLY -- Dodger first base prospect Cory Dunlap, the club's third-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, was named to the Topps Class A-Short Season/Rookie League All-Star team. Dunlap, who played at Contra Costa Community College last year, batted .351 (86-for-245) with seven homers and 53 RBI in 71 games for Rookie-level Ogden last season. GETTING A REP-UTATION -- Dodger outfield prospect Jason Repko, who was recently added to the 40-man roster, was named to the Arizona Fall League All-Prospect team, as voted on by managers and coaches. Repko, the club's first selection in the June 1999 First-Year Player Draft, tied for the league lead with eight home runs. Also making the All-Prospect team was first baseman James Loney, while catcher Russell Martin received consideration for the prestigious honor. TALES FROM THE DODGER DUGOUT -- Former Dodger great Tommy Davis has co-authored a book with Los Angeles Times sportswriter Paul Gutierrez about his playing days with the Dodgers. The two-time All-Star and National League batting champion recounts his memories from the club's World Championship seasons of 1963 and 1965, as well as several other great moments in Dodger history. The book, scheduled for a late January release, is available for preorder at www.sportspublishinging.com

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories