Dodgers Dip into Treasure Chest, Acquire Baez

The Dodgers touched a pair of their previously untouchable cache of young pitchers, dipping into the bag of sparkling pitching prospects to trade right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson and minor league left-hander Chuck Tiffany to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for All-Star relievers Danys Baez and Lance Carter.

Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti, while loath to lose the two young pitchers, said, "The opportunity to add two relievers of this caliber to our bullpen fills a big need for us. Danys is one of the top closers in the American League and Lance has had success at the major leagues as well.

"The opportunity to add two relievers of this caliber to our bullpen fills a big need for us."

Eric Gagne's availability after last year's season-ending surgery on his pitching elbow was of great concern for the club and although he is expected back sometime this year, the Dodgers have a proven closer available until he returns.

And Gagne will be a free agent in 2007. With Scott Boras as his agent, the Dodgers knew it would be necessary to pay top dollar to keep him on the staff.

Baez, 31, went 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 41 saves last season, which ranked fifth in the American League and earned him a spot on the American League All-Star team.

Over the past three seasons, Baez has logged 96 saves, the sixth most in the major leagues behind Mariano Rivera (136), Eric Gagné (108), Jason Isringhausen (109), Billy Wagner (103) and Francisco Cordero (101).

The Cuba native has finished 123 games over the past two seasons, the second-highest mark in the major leagues behind Rivera (136).

He was the only player in the majors last season to save 40 games for a sub-.500 team and he posted his 41 rescues in 49 opportunities, converting 22 of his last 23 and 36 of his final 38.

Carter, 31, was an American League All-Star in 2003, when he posted a career-high 26 saves in 62 appearances. Last season, he appeared in 39 games for Tampa Bay, going 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA in 57.0 innings. His 165 appearances in a Devil Rays' uniform rank fifth all-time in franchise history.

The native of Bradenton, FL was originally selected by Kansas City and appeared in six games for the Royals in 1999 before signing as a free agent with Tampa Bay in 2002.

Jackson beat Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks on his 20th birthday in 2003 and over the past three seasons has posted a 6-4 record and 5.50 ERA. In 100 career minor league games, the right-hander has a 29-25 mark and 4.21 ERA.

Last season, Jackson was a combined 9-11 with a 5.91 ERA for Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas before going 2-2 with a 6.28 ERA for the Dodgers.

Tampa Bay executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, "The stuff that made him rated that high is still there. He still possesses that dominant stuff and we're excited to get him in the organization.''

Tiffany, 20, went 11-7 with a 3.93 ERA (48 ER/110.0 IP) and 134 strikeouts for Single-A Vero Beach last season. In three professional campaigns, the southpaw is 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA (92 ER/212.1 IP) and 279 strikeouts. He was originally selected in the second round of the June 2003 First-Year Player Draft.

Baez's contract calls for a $4 million salary this year. The Devil Rays picked up his option after last season rather than give him a $1 million buyout.

Carter agreed to a $550,000, one-year deal last month.