Dodgers Sign "Most Popular Diamondback"

Luis Gonzalez, whom many feel was the most popular player in Arizona franchise history, turned down a two-year contract with the Dodgers to sign with them for one year at $7 million, giving the Dodgers the outfielder they had been searching for.

Gonzalez, 39, also turned down a higher offer from the Baltimore Orioles to stay close to home - in part to continue his tradition of community service in the Valley and with revenge playing a large part in the decision, because he wanted to show the team that told him he was too old to play anymore that they were wrong.

The 19 games between the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers in the National League West was too good to turn down although the Orioles and Cardinals made serious efforts to sign him.

Gonzalez didn't come to an agreement until 4 a.m. PST Thursday morning. Manager Grady Little said that he will be the starting left fielder, probably batting between right-handers Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent.

While Gonzalez's home run total slipped from 2005, he still hit .271 with 52 doubles, 15 homers and 73 RBI last season. He built his reputation when he had the World Series-winning hit in Game 7 against the New York Yankees to give Arizona the title..

In a press conference before leaving the DBacks, Gonzalez told the Arizona Republic: "I'd like come back here and haunt these guys if I can. Wouldn't any athlete like to come back and beat his old team? I mean, realistically, that would be a great situation."

Schmidt's record-- Jason Schmidt had only a 11-9 record and 3.59 earned-run average for San Francisco last season, but he pitched at least seven innings in 17 of his 32 starts, averaging 6.5 innings per start. Derek Lowe led he Dodger staff with a 6.3 mark and Maddux was second with a 6.1.

Brad Penny pitched seven innings or more only seven times. Derek Lowe, who emerged as the team's most reliable starter, made it to the seventh inning 14 times.

Schmidt is nearly 34, but he's only two years older than Chris Carpenter, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner. And with such a short-term contract, the Dodgers aren't committed to paying him once the gray hairs start creeping into his goatee.

The next move, it appears is moving Brady who is still young enough and throws hard enough to attract interest from teams.

A possible trade partner could be the Toronto Blue Jays, whose general manager, J.P. Ricciardi, likes Penny. Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells has one year left on his contract and isn't likely to re-sign with Toronto, so Ricciardi could be open to trading him.

No Discount-- Former bullpen ace Eric Gagne said during the season he would give the Dodgers a hometown discount to re-sign, but Gagne's agent, Scott Boras, turned down a guaranteed one-year, $4-million Dodgers offer with incentives that could have increased the value to $10 million, a source close to the negotiations said.

Although the Dodgers don't appear willing to increase the offer, Boras plans to speak to Colletti again before Gagne signs with another team. The market for Gagne has increased to more than $5 million guaranteed, with the same kind of incentives the Dodgers are offering.

Beimel's Coming Back-- Little said reliever Joe Beimel, who missed the National League Division Series when he cut his finger on a glass while drinking in a New York bar in the early-morning hours of Oct. 3, will rejoin the club for spring training. Little also said he is prepared to address any problems in the clubhouse.

Other signings-- Lefhander Ted Lilly signed with the Cubs, catcher Paul Bako signed with Baitimore, catcher Mike Piazza signed with Oakland and catcher Geronimo Gil signed with Colorado.