Dodgers Offer Weaver Arbitration, Sign Sane

While looking for help outside the organization, the Dodgers took time to do a little work internally, offering arbitration to workhorse Jeff Weaver and signing pinch-hitter deluxe Olmedo Sane. And scout Carl Lowenstein has been selected as "Scout of the Year" at the Winter Meetings.

Weaver, 29, was again an innings-eater with a career-high 14 wins, but the Dodgers won't be able to re-sign him cheaply. Weaver earned $9.25 million in 2005 and is looking for more than that annually over multiple years.

But they probably won't be able to keep him.

However, by offering arbitration to a free agent, the club retains negotiating rights to him until at least Jan. 8 and would receive compensation draft picks if the player signs with another club.

If the player accepts arbitration by Dec. 19, he becomes a signed player with his salary to be determined by the arbitration process if no settlement is reached.

They re-signed utilityman Olmedo Saenz to a two-year, $2 million contract, according to Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti.

Saenz signs ...try saying that fast three times.

But no matter how you say it, the big guy has been important off the bench for the Dodgers.

"Olmedo has been a huge threat in the past two seasons," said Colletti. "He provides a veteran presence in the clubhouse and has shown that he can fill several roles for the club."

Saenz, 35, entered last season as the Dodgers' primary right-handed pinch-hitter, but injuries to his teammates forced him into extensive playing time, as he set career highs in games played (109), at-bats (319), hits (84), doubles (24), home runs (15), RBI (63) and walks (27). He ranked second on the Dodgers in RBI, tied for second in homers and was fourth in slugging percentage (.480).

The Panama native was one of the National League's top pinch-hitters in 2004, ranking fourth in RBI (13) and tied for fifth in pinch-hits (15). His 13 RBI off the bench that season tied him for the fifth-most in a single season in L.A. Dodger history. He became just the ninth player in franchise history to slug three pinch-hit homers in a season when he accomplished the feat in 2004.

In seven Major League seasons with the White Sox, Athletics and Dodgers, Saenz has a .265 career batting average with 58 homers and 209 RBI. He has a .267 lifetime mark off the bench, including seven pinch-hit homers and 31 RBI.

As far as Weaver is concerned, general manager Ned Colletti said he was fine with either option, arbitration or signing, welcoming Weaver back in a one-year deal if he accepts the arbitration process (which is unlikely) or collecting the compensation picks if Weaver signs a lucrative deal elsewhere.

Based on conversations the Dodgers had with Weaver during the season, the club believes he will be out of its price range, but had not met recently with his agent as of Wednesday afternoon.

The club did not offer arbitration to free agents Elmer Dessens, Paul Bako, Jose Valentin and Darren Dreifort. Attempts were made to re-sign Dessens and Bako.

The star-crossed Dreifort, is expected to retire because of a degenerative connective tissue disease, it marked the severing of a his 12-year Dodgers career. The last five years, under a $55 million contract, he's won nine games and undergone nine operations. Two of the five seasons he missed entirely.

After attempting to re-sign Bako, missed most of the 2005 season with knee surgery, the Dodgers could use catcher Jason Phillips to back up young catchers Dioner Navarro and Russell Martin, but Phillips may not be tendered a contract Dec. 20.

Had the pie in the Sky bids for Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Bobby Abreu been completed, it would have left more problems than would have been solved.

So the names of Bill Mueller, Nomar Garciaparra and Joe Randa have come up again as likely solutions in the infield.

Colletti seemed to have no trouble bidding on big name players, making his claim that claim that payroll is not an issue. The Dodgers already have $72 million committed to 11 players for 2006.

"Payroll has been a zero issue to me from the first interview with the McCourts," he said of the club owners. "It doesn't mean you spend to spend. Spend wisely and on the right people. Don't spend because you have it. It makes a difference on who you spend it on."

Colletti said he is still talking to two or three potential trade partners on the final day of the Winter Meetings. He said he would have to be overwhelmed to include starters Derek Lowe or Brad Penny in a deal, but it's clear that Perez (and the $20.5 million he is owed over the next two years) is on the market.

Lowenstein Scout of the Year-- Dodger Major League scout Carl Loewenstine was named as the Scout of the Year today, it was announced at baseball's annual Winter Meetings.

"This is probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me because it's an honor that comes from my peers," said Loewenstine. "They're my family away from my family."

The popular Loewenstine is entering his 31st year in professional baseball and 26th as a scout with the Dodgers. He joined the club in 1980 as an area scout and currently serves in the role of Major League scout. He began his scouting career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976.

"You hear a lot about the Dodger way and Carl exemplifies that in every sense of the phrase," said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. "This honor speaks volumes about his work ethic and his character and the Dodgers are proud to have him as part of the family."

Loewenstine enters his 31st year in professional baseball and 26th as a scout with the Dodgers. He joined the club in 1980 as an area scout and currently serves in the role of Major League scout. He began his scouting career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976.

A native of Cincinnati, OH, Loewenstine has helped find Dodger talent that has produced six National League West Division titles and two World Championships, including shortstop Dave Anderson, who played 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 116 games for the 1988 World Champion Dodgers.

"Carl has Hall of Fame credentials as a scout, but those of us who know him know that his integrity distinguishes him from the rest of the class," said Dodger Amateur Scouting Director Logan White. "Not only is he a great example for young scouts to follow in their job, but also in the way he handles himself off the field."

Trade Talks-- The Dodgers' trade talks with the Texas Rangers now center on Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time after making just $345,000 last season. It is believed the Rangers asking for Dodgers pitching prospect Jonathan Broxton. Mench, 28, has had a pair of strong seasons, recording .279-26-71 and .264-25-73 (average, home runs, rbi) in 2004 and 2005. Broxton, who is 22, hit 101 on the speed gun last season at Jacksonville and in four minor league seasons strung together earned run averages of .296 (Great Falls), 3.13 (South Georgia), 3.13 (Vero Beach) and 3.17 (Jacksonville) while striking out 314 in 291 innings. …The Dodgers also continue to pursue a free-agent third baseman, with former American League batting champion Bill Mueller. Also after Mueller are San Francisco and Pittsburgh, and it is believed both the Pirates and Dodgers have offered him two-year deals. The Dodgers probably have the edge because Mueller has past relationships with both Colletti, who was in the Giants' front office when Mueller played there, and new manager Grady Little, for whom Mueller played in Boston. …Colletti also has said he is looking for a left-handed reliever. The Dodgers are believed to have expressed interest in free-agent left-hander Dennys Reyes, who came up with them in 1997 before being sent to Cincinnati in the Jeff Shaw-Paul Konerko trade in July 1998. …Jason Stark of ESPN says the Cubs and Dodgers haven't finalized a deal that would send outfielder Milton Bradley to the Cubs. But it seems clear that Bradley will be traded in the next few days, and no team is more interested in Bradley than the Cubs. Dusty Baker came away from a meeting with Bradley last month convinced that Bradley could fit. And Bradley's .350-plus on-base percentage the last three years also would fit. Only two Cubs regulars -- Derek Lee and Aramirs Ramirez -- had an on-base percentage over .350 this season.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Tony Cloninger and Dan Warthen are among those being considered as Grady Little's pitching coach. …Colletti said that of all the coveted prospects clubs are asking for, pitcher Chad Billingsley is not available. …He pointed out that Eric Gagne is on schedule with his recovery from elbow surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Gagne also became a father for the third time Monday when wife Valerie delivered their second daughter named Bluu.…The club is checking on the health of infielder Antonio Perez, who was hit in left cheek with a pitch in the Dominican Winter League two weeks ago. …The contract of outfielder Jason Grabowski has been sold to the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese League. Grabowski will receive a salary of $650,000, about double the Major League minimum.