The Dodgers gave contracts to three players before Monday’s deadline. Scott Elbert, who has undergone three elbow surgeries, will make $575,000 in Major League salary for 2014. The left-handed reliever didn’t pitch for the Dodgers at all in 2013 after finally succumbing to Tommy John surgery on June 7th. He had previously had elbow surgery to remove scar tissue last September, and then he also had a procedure for debridement of cartilage in a different area of his elbow in January of this year.
The 28-year old southpaw is one of the longest-tenured Dodgers on the team since making his MLB debut in Blue back in August of 2008. Since then, Elbert has pitched in 120 games for the Dodgers and has a career record of 3-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 92 1/3 innings pitched. He has struck out 92 batters while walking only 41. His best years with the Dodgers were from 2011-2012 when he pitched in over 40 games each season and had great ERAs of 2.43 and 2.20 respectively.
Elbert isn’t expected back until mid-2014, but if healthy could give the Dodgers an added lefty boost out of the pen. Right now other than Paco Rodriguez, who is still under team control, the Dodgers have no other left-handed relievers signed. J.P. Howell is most likely looking for a long-term deal (probably in the three year range), and it is unclear whether the Dodgers have been negotiating with J.P. Many other teams are likely interested in Howell after the great year he posted in Los Angeles.
Mike Baxter, an outfielder who will play in AAA-Albuquerque, was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers from the New York Mets on October 17th. Baxter’s salary will be for $700,000, although all three contracts are not guaranteed for these signees according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The 28-year old left-handed hitter has played for the Mets for parts of three seasons. Last year he played in 74 games for the Mets, and he hit .189 with just 25 hits, 4 RBIs, and 5 stolen bases. As a corner infielder, Baxter primarily played in right field.
The Dodgers also signed catcher Drew Butera who is third-in-line behind A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. I highly doubt Butera beats out FedEx this Spring, but the Dodgers need catching depth regardless. There is always a need in Spring Training for extra catchers to facilitate all the pitchers in camp. Butera’s salary will be the same as Baxter’s at $700,000 in 2014.
The Dodgers traded minor leaguer Miguel Sulbaran to Minnesota back at the trade deadline in exchange for back stop Butera. The 30-year old catcher made a brief appearance for the Dodgers in September when he played in 4 games and had one hit and four strikeouts in 7 at-bats. He played in just 2 games for Minnesota the season prior. Butera has been in the Minors for most of 7 seasons, and his career Minor League batting average is a whopping .214 in 502 games. He played in 16 games for the Triple-A Isotopes season in 2013.
While the Dodgers avoided arbitration with Elbert, Baxter, and Butera, the remaining arbitration
Negotiations must be ramping up this weekend, and Ned Colletti must be talking some major Turkey with these agents. Clayton Kershaw contract rumors have been swirling since last season, and new gossip on Friday was surrounding the talk of a new contract between the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez being discussed.
As November comes to a close, the Rule 5 Draft and Winter Meetings approach. Many empty roster holes and contract negotiations will have to be decided. Signing Clayton Kershaw is the utmost priority, and we will keep you posted on any Kersh developments. But you don’t have to worry about Drew Butera, he’s good-to-go next year for the Dodgers.