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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Source: Juan Rivera, Dodgers close

By Tony Jackson
ESPNLosAngeles.com

Taking advantage of a five-day exclusive negotiating period with their own free agents, the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to an agreement with outfielder-first baseman Juan Rivera on a one-year contract with a club option for 2013, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Financial terms of the deal weren't immediately available. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti declined to comment on the matter. Bean Stringfellow, Rivera's Richmond, Va.-based agent, didn't return repeated messages from ESPNLosAngeles.com.

By re-signing Rivera, whom they acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on the morning of the All-Star Game and who hit .274 with five homers and 46 RBIs the rest of the season and provided valuable protection in the lineup for Matt Kemp, the Dodgers quickly solved two major issues heading into 2012.

First, they have a fixture in left field, a position that often was in flux in 2011 before Rivera's arrival, and also a guy who can play first base if manager Don Mattingly chooses to rest James Loney against certain left-handed pitchers. Second, Rivera will continue to provide a middle-of-the-order offensive threat so teams can't simply pitch around Kemp.

Rivera, 33, is a .277 career hitter in 11 big league seasons. He was in the final season of a three-year, $12.75 million contract, and the Blue Jays paid the vast majority of his $5.25 million salary for 2011.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.