Dodgers Sign Backup Catcher

General Manager Paul DePodesta has agreed in principal with free-agent catcher Paul Bako on a one-year, $650,000 contract. Bako fills the spot vacated when the club failed to come to an agreement with veteran Brent Mayne. The signing depends on his passing a physical.

Bako, 32, is expected to share time behind the plate with David Ross, possibly as a left-right platoon. Being a veteran and left-handed hitter, Bako figures to get most of the starts, but Bako has a .239 career average and has never hit more than four home runs or driven in more than 30 runs in any of his seven major-league seasons. He is, however, a solid defensive catcher.

His contract calls for him to receive an additional $25,000 for each of 60, 75, 90 and 100 games started, meaning he could receive as much as $750,000. Even with the bonuses, Bako will take a hefty cut from the $865,000 he received from Chicago last year. Bako also has logged time with Detroit, Houston, Florida, Atlanta and Milwaukee. His career high for games played (96) came in his rookie season (1998) with the Tigers.

With the Dodgers waiting on the results of Derek Lowe's physical after announcing the re-signing of Odalis Perez to a three-year deal worth a guaranteed $24 million, their roster appears largely set going into spring training.