Dodgers may sign C Sandy Alomar

With two very young catchers poised to take over behind the plate in Los Angeles, negotiations with free-agent catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. are underway on a one-year contract. The 18-year major-league veteran and six-time All-Star who is in the twilight of his career would replace Paul Bako as the club's backup catcher.

The Dodgers attempted to re-sign Bako as a backup but negotiations broke down and when the Dodgers didn't offer arbitration, Bako signed with the Kansas City Royals. Bako received $650,000 last year.

"We're almost there," Colletti said of the trade. "We need somebody who will play once or twice a week as well as be a mentor for (Navarro). I think we're going to get a guy like that."

John Boggs, Alomar's agent, confirmed on that he has had recent discussions with Dodgers officials concerning Alomar. But Boggs noted they were still talking to other clubs about Alomar.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported Colletti has turned his attention to Toronto right-hander Miguel Batista. However, the Blue Jays are seeking to beef up their offense, and have no interest in outfielder Milton Bradley.

Free agent third baseman Bill Mueller is still in the Dodgers' gun sights. But Colletti seemed to hint that super-prospect Andy LaRoche might be ready to come to the big leagues and play every day despite never having played above Double-A.

"You have to be willing to give some younger players a chance," said Colletti, who added he wouldn't be opposed to having as many as three or four rookies on the opening-day roster.

Alomar, 39, caught 46 games in Texas last year, about what Bako was expected to fill in Los Angeles before knee surgery ended his season in May.

Alomar made just $550,000 with the Rangers last season, when he hit .273 with no homers, seven doubles and 14 RBI. He won't cost the Dodgers much more in 2006 than Bako did in 2005 and is superior to Bako defensively.

Navarro will turn 22 just before the start of spring training and the 23-year-old Martin will probably start the season at AAA Las Vegas.

Navarro was surprisingly productive at the plate, batting .273 with a .354 on-base percentage while walking almost as many times (20) as he struck out (21).

Phillips, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time after making $339,000 last year, will be traded if the Dodgers can make a deal. If not, he will be non-tendered and become a free agent.

Batista, who made his major-league debut with Pittsburgh in 1992, will turn 35 in February and was an unimpressive 5-8 with a 4.10 ERA for the Blue Jays last season. He also is due $4.75 million in 2006, the final season of a three-year, $13.1 million contract, after which he will be eligible for free agency.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Fernando Valenzuela, 45, improved to 3-0 in the Mexican Pacific League with six innings of seven-hit, two-run, one-walk, one-strikeout ball on Tuesday. Valenzuela's ERA is 3.72. …Infielder Antonio Perez was hit in the face by a pitch playing for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League last month. Perez, who suffered a small fracture in his cheekbone, apparently will not require surgery. The Dodgers have yet to speak to Perez or have him examined by one of their doctors … There is some discussion within the organization about starting the season with 21-year-old right-hander Chad Billingsley in the rotation, which would lessen the urgency to add another starter. Billingsley, the organization's pitcher of the year two years running, has not pitched above double A. But he and third baseman Andy LaRoche are the players about whom most teams inquire in trade discussions. LaRoche is believed to be a year away or less, but Colletti is not eager to dole out a long-term contract to a free agent at that position. If Bill Mueller or Joe Randa can be had for the short term, they are the logical picks. If not, Colletti implied he might go younger sooner. "We have to decide a direction, whether it entails a young kid or two," he said. "That's tough to do, but we're almost in between. Free agents want long-term deals, but our needs are not served keeping them three or four years away. I want to try to improve for '06 without hindering '07 and '08. That is really the trick of these meetings. I could improve us right now, but I'm not sure it would make '07 and '08 as good as they can be. …Jose Valentin joined the New York Mets in a reserve role Thursday, agreeing to a $912,500, one-year contract. Valentin hit .170 with two homers and 14 RBI in 56 games with the Dodgers last season. He was sidelined from May 4 to July 31 with torn ligaments in his right knee after a collision at home plate. …The Rockies sent right-handed pitcher Marcos Carvajal to the Mariners to complete a trade for catcher Yorvit Torrealba. …Elmer Dessens, who was not offered arbitration by the Dodgers, signed a two-year contract with Kansas City worth $3.4 million. …Joel Guzman is continuing his steady development, hitting .294/.370/.513 with 5 homers, 9 doubles, 26 RBI, 14 walks and 26 strikeouts in 119 at bats playing for the Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League. His raw power has been on display more often in game action this year, and he's shown a much better understanding of the strike zone. Guzman has drawn a walk every 8.5 at bats and has struck out every 4.6, compared to 10.5 and 3.4 at Double-A during the summer. Joel said that Terry Collins wanted him to concentrate more on his hitting and at bats, no matter where the Estrellas put him on the field. Guzman has played primarily at both infield corners, and recently was moved back to shortstop but has committed eleven errors on the season. Dodgers RHP Yhency Brazoban is leading the league in saves with 12 for the first-place Licey Tigers. Brazoban has a 1.96 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. …Former Dodger GM Dan Evans interviewed for the open Boston GM spot. …The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Dodgers are talking to the Cubs about a Milton Bradley for Todd Walker swap. …The Angels are supposedly interested in Matt Morris, who's also being pursued by the Dodgers. … One web sites said Tommy Lasorda endorsed Jim Fregosi as a manager on the Mike & the Mad Dog radio show on ESPN and one wag said, "when Little was signed Lasorda was then put back on a boat to Elba." …The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story indicating the Pirates are hoping to get their mitts on Milton Bradley. …The NY Daily News article above says Mueller has cut his interest down to the Dodgers and the Pirates.