The Dodgers have been among the most active teams this offseason, re-signing three-fifths of their starting rotation, along with infielder Juan Uribe.
But they’re not finished yet.
Two older free agents – outfielder Johnny Damon, 37, and catcher Jason Varitek, 38 – are among the players on the Dodgers’ radar, according to major-league sources.
In fact, the Dodgers are in contact with virtually every free-agent catcher – Rod Barajas, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo – as they try to determine their next step with Russell Martin.
The team's in talks with Martin, who's coming off a small fracture in his right hip and a $5.05 million salary. If no agreement's reached by Thursday, the deadline for tendering contracts, Martin almost certainly will hit the open market; the Dodgers will not risk going to arbitration with him.
The problem for the two sides is trying to determine Martin’s health, let alone his value.
Martin, 27, is at least a week away from running, sources say, and perhaps six weeks away from resuming baseball activities. He'd be returning to the most physically demanding position on the field, and his offensive performance is in decline – he posted on-base slugging percentages of .680 and .679 the past two seasons, though he didn't play after Aug. 3 last season due to his injury.
A.J. Ellis and Hector Gimenez are the only other catchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster. Varitek could be a possibility if he was willing to move west, but the team might be better served by a slightly younger veteran such as Barajas, Pierzynski or Olivo.
Damon seemingly would be a better fit in the American League – more than 75 percent of his plate appearances for the Tigers last season were as a DH. But with the Dodgers, he could replace free agent Scott Podsednik and hit second behind Rafael Furcal.
The Dodgers likely would want assurances Damon was in good enough shape to play the outfield, but the team’s current left fielder, Jay Gibbons, also is below-average defensively.
Damon would carry added value as a positive influence for the club’s younger players, and new manager Don Mattingly is familiar with him from their days together with the Yankees.