Lugo offered arbitration

As expected, the Dodgers offered arbitration to infielder Julio Lugo just before Friday night's deadline and declined to offer it to any of their six other remaining free agents: Greg Maddux, Eric Gagne, Aaron Sele, Kenny Lofton and Einar Diaz.

Under the new agreement, which was finalized five weeks ago, free agents can continue to negotiate with their former clubs throughout the winter.

The offering to Lugo, a Type A free agent, means the Dodgers will get at least two additional draft picks in the first two rounds next June if they lose him to another club. That likely be the case because Lugo was unhappy in Los Angeles playing any position but shortstop.

If he does accept arbitration, the Dodgers can still trade him in their search for another pitcher or two.

Gagne and Maddux also are Type A free agents, but they were both in the $10 million class and the Dodgers did not want to risk having them go to arbitration and receive even higher salaries.

Sources say the Dodgers are still open to attempting to re-sign Gagne, Maddux, pitcher Aaron Sele and catcher Einar Diaz. The addition of outfielder Juan Pierre leaves no room for veteran outfielder Kenny Lofton. Arbitration Offered
Twenty-five free agents were offered salary arbitration:
Dodgers--SS Julio Lugo
Diamondbacks--P Miguel Batista
Reds--INF Rich Aurilia, P Scott Schoeneweis
Brewers--2B Tony Graffanino
Mets--Ps Roberto Hernandez, Guillermo Mota
Phillies--LF David Dellucci (contract with the Indians hasn't been finalized)
Cardinals--Ps Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan
Padres--Ps Alan Embree, Chan Ho Park & David Wells, 1B-OF Ryan Klesko, CF Dave Roberts, 2B Todd Walker
Giants--P Jason Schmidt
Nationals--RF Jose Guillen
Red Sox--P Keith Foulke
Yankees--P Ron Villone
A's--P Barry Zito
Mariners--P Gil Meche
Rangers--LF Carlos Lee (his contract with the Astros hasn't been officially finalized), P Vicente Padilla
Blue Jays--P Ted Lilly


Now, free agents can return to their former teams at any time. By not offering arbitration, all a club loses is the right to receive amateur draft picks if a highly ranked player signs with another team. Free agents who were offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to accept.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers also are expected to sign catcher Mike Lieberthal, who was not offered arbitration by the Phillies on Friday. …Ken GurnickFormer Dodger outfielder Dave Roberts has agreed to a three-year contract worth $18 million, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. TShe 35-year-old enjoyed a career year for the National League West champion Padres in 2006, setting personal bests in multiple categories, including batting average (.293), steals (49), hits (146), runs (80) and on-base percentage (.360). He also tied a franchise record with 13 triples. …Tampa Bay signed 1B Hee-Seop Choi, Colorado signed C Geronimo Gil and Toronto signed C Jason Phillips. …In an odd twist of fate, Tampa Bay named former Dodger minor league catcher Joe Szekely as manager of their Class A team in Vero Beach. …Another former Dodger minor league player, LHP Ted Lilly, has drawn strong interest from the Chicago Cubs who made him a four-year offer. Toronto has offered him arbitration, which he is expected to decline. The Yankees, Orioles, Rangers and Giants have also expressed an interest in the 30-year-old. …Chief marketing officer Tagg Romney has left the organization in what is being termed a mutual agreement. Romney plans to play a key role in what is expected to be a campaign by his father, outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

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