Dodgers still in talks to re-sign Padilla
Veteran right-hander could serve in utility role on staff
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, not satisfied with five established starting pitchers, are still in negotiations to re-sign Vicente Padilla, last year's Opening Day starter.
Padilla went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA in 2010 and made only 16 starts. He missed two months early in the season with right forearm discomfort and most of the last month with a bulging disk in his neck.
In a strange way, Padilla's injuries are part of the reason the club is still interested, because injuries in recent years have convinced general manager Ned Colletti that a five-man rotation isn't enough to withstand the anticipated attrition.
The current Dodgers rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland. It was originally assumed that the signing of Garland eliminated the club's interest in Padilla.
Although no deal is imminent according to baseball sources, Padilla could serve multiple purposes for the Dodgers. Colletti has talked about adding a veteran swingman capable of pitching multiple innings of relief with the durability to slide into the starting rotation if needed.
Padilla could do that, and his stuff is still nasty enough (especially against left-handed hitters) to close games. The Dodgers have All-Star Jonathan Broxton for that role, but there is concern over his late-season fade. There's Hong-Chih Kuo, but his injury history is well documented. Kenley Jansen made a spectacular debut, but he remains unproven as a pitcher.
So the 33-year-old Padilla could be a staff utility man. When he was healthiest in midseason, Padilla strung six consecutive quality starts with a 1.30 ERA. An 11-year veteran, he was signed as a free agent during the stretch run of 2009 after being released by the Texas Rangers. He went 4-0 with the Dodgers and stepped up with dominant starts in the playoffs.
Padilla earned $5.025 million in 2010 and was hopeful of pitching himself into position for a multi-year deal, which is now unlikely after his injuries.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.