Dodgers bring back Barajas on one-year deal
Catcher signs after team doesn't tender contract to Martin
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Friday completed the signing of free-agent catcher Rod Barajas, who passed his physical exam and will again replace Russell Martin.
Barajas agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal. He will team with A.J. Ellis behind the plate for the Dodgers.
Martin, seeking $5 million guaranteed and still healing from a broken hip, was non-tendered Thursday night, when the two sides fell $800,000 apart from reaching an agreement.
Had the Dodgers tendered a contract, Martin could have earned upward of $6 million through arbitration, a risk the club wouldn't take considering his uncertain health and decreasing offensive production.
In the wake of letting Martin go -- he still could return in an expanded role that includes infield and outfield play -- general manager Ned Colletti has already accomplished most of his stated offseason goals.
He has replenished the starting rotation by signing Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland. He's added a bat with the signing of Juan Uribe to play second base. He's now clarified the catching situation with the signing of Barajas. And the Winter Meetings don't start until Monday.
Colletti still needs a versatile, veteran swingman for the bullpen. Vicente Padilla is a possibility if he doesn't find a lucrative starting job elsewhere. And Colletti still would like to add a left fielder, that market having expanded with a non-tender to Matt Diaz, among others.
In the 35-year-old Barajas, Colletti not only knows what he's getting, he's getting more offensive thunder than Martin provided in recent years. Shortly after Martin suffered the broken hip, the Dodgers claimed Barajas off waivers from the Mets. He went on to slug five home runs in 25 games for the Dodgers, batting .297. His 17 home runs on the season were second among National League catchers.
The Dodgers aren't expecting Barajas to mash at his September pace (his career slugging percentage is 166 points lower than the .578 as a Dodger), but his power helps balance a batting order with James Loney (10 homers) at the power position of first base and uncertain production from left field.
Barajas caught a combined 99 games last year, which means Ellis is likely to see more playing time than he would behind a healthy Martin. Known as a strong catch-and-throw receiver, Ellis hit .417 (15-for-36) with two doubles and six RBIs over his final 16 games, raising his average 70 points to a season-ending .278. He committed one error and one passed ball in 308 innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.