Dodgers Sign Cesar Izturis

The Dodgers signed shortstop Cesar Izturis to a three-year contract, avoiding arbitration, and now have only Brad Penny and Eric Gagné left on their to-sign list before the scheduled exchange of salary arbitration figures today.

Izturis, who made $358,500 last year, has been the Dodgers' starting shortstop the past three seasons and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

He receives a $300,000 signing bonus and will earn $2.05 million this year, $3.1 million in 2006, and $4.15 million in 2007. The Dodgers have a 2008 option at $5.85 million with a $300,000 buyout. In addition, Izturis' salary would rise by $150,000 in any season after he wins a Gold Glove.

Izturis, who will be 25 by opening day, earned his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2004 and ranked fourth in the National League in multi-hit games (58), sixth in hits (193), fourth in triples (9), second in at-bats (670) and seventh in batting average with runners in scoring position (.331). He set career highs in several categories, including average (.288), home runs (4), RBI (62), hits (193) and stolen bases (25).

In four seasons in the Major Leagues, Izturis has a career fielding percentage of .980, including a .985 mark in 2004, third best among NL shortstops in 2004. Last season, he led all big league shortstops with a .881 zone rating, which measures the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive "zone," as measured by STATS, Inc.

The switch-hitting shortstop improved dramatically from the left side of the plate, jumping 51 points between 2002 and 2003 and then another 49 points in 2004, from .246 to .295.

Last season, he joined Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki as the only two players in the Major Leagues to have five different hitting streaks of 10 games or more, a feat accomplished by only nine players in baseball since 1990.

Izturis made his third consecutive Opening Day start in 2004, the first time a Dodger shortstop has done so since Jose Offerman (1992-95). His 32 doubles tied Bill Russell's Los Angeles club record for a shortstop (1978) and his 25 stolen bases were the most by a Dodger shortstop since Offerman swiped 30 in 1993. Izturis drove in 62 runs, marking the most RBI by a Dodger shortstop since Offerman also had 62 in 1993. His 670 at-bats ranked second on the franchise single-season list behind Maury Wills (695 in 1962).

The native of Venezuela moved into the leadoff spot on July 23 last season and from that point forward, batted .275 (77-for-280) with 45 runs scored. He was the sixth-hardest player to double up in the National League, grounding into a double play just once every 111.7 at-bats.