Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Updated: December 10, 9:43 AM ET
Dodgers agree with Blake, Loretta
ESPN.com news services
Casey Blake is staying put in L.A.
That's because the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the third baseman to a three-deal with a club option for the 2012 season on Tuesday.
"We are excited to bring back a player whose performance on the field and leadership off the field contributed so much to our division championship this year," general manager Neil Colletti said. "Our club changed when Casey arrived, and we are thrilled that he wants to continue his career with the Dodgers."
Blake's deal is worth $17.5 million, with escalator clauses and an option year that could bring the total package to as much as $23.75 million if he remains with the Dodgers, or $24.5 million if he's traded during the life of the contract.
He'll earn $5 million next year, $6 million in 2010 and $5.25 million in 2011. There is a $6 million club option for 2012, or a $1.25 million buyout.
But Blake's salary also could increase by $500,000 a year in the final two seasons and the option year if he reaches 600 plate appearances per season. He also would receive an additional $750,000 if the Dodgers trade him.
It's believed the Minnesota Twins had offered him a two-year contract in the neighborhood of $14 million.
The Dodgers also are expected to announce the signing of Mark Loretta, who has agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million contract, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Loretta figures to be the Dodgers' primary backup at all four infield positions.
The additions will fill two of Colletti's top offseason priorities as he waits to hear whether Manny Ramirez will accept an offer from Los Angeles and to determine how seriously CC Sabathia might be interested in joining the Dodgers.
Settling the infield with two veterans will only help a young Los Angeles roster.
"Obviously they're great players," manager Joe Torre said at the winter meetings. "We had Casey last year. In Loretta's case, I'm used to him beating my brains in with the Red Sox. Every time you thought you'd get him out, he'd get a base hit to right field."
Blake, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Cleveland Indians just before the trade deadline, batted .250 in 211 plate appearances for the Dodgers and .274 overall last season. He's a career .264 hitter with 128 home runs and 447 RBIs in 10 major league seasons.
Loretta hit .280 in 261 at-bats for the Houston Astros last season with four homers and 38 RBIs. He appeared at four infield positions and hit .330 against left-handers.
A 13-year veteran and two-time All-Star, Loretta was not offered arbitration by the Astros, so the Dodgers won't have to surrender any draft picks to sign him.
Torre said he's been a fan of Loretta for years.
"I like the type of player he is," Torre said. "He looked like a guy who handled the heat of the game really well."
Even with Loretta, the Dodgers will likely make a push to bring back shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is seeking a four-year deal.
The 31-year-old Furcal was sidelined for all but 36 games last season with Los Angeles because of back problems that required surgery. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list during the final week after being sidelined since May 6.
Furcal batted .357 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He turned down such an offer from the Oakland Athletics on Friday.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.