LOS ANGELES -- Tony Gwynn passed his physical exam on Saturday and officially became the Dodgers' fourth outfielder and defensive specialist.
Whether he becomes the starting left fielder is to be determined. General manager Ned Colletti said before leaving the Winter Meetings that he's still looking for a starting left fielder, preferably right-handed, as Gwynn and Jay Gibbons give the Dodgers left-handed platoon options.
Gwynn, the son of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, was non-tendered by the Padres last week. He signed a one-year, $675,000 deal, a cheaper alternative to Scott Podsednik, who Colletti said hasn't been completely ruled out even though he also bats left-handed. Gwynn essentially replaces right-handed hitting Reed Johnson, the fourth outfielder last season and now a free agent.
Gwynn, 28, adds defense and speed to a roster that doesn't have much of either. His batting average fell from .270 in 2009 to .204 this past season, when he played in 117 games and stole a career-high 17 bases. Defensively, he has outstanding range and can play any of the three outfield positions.
Of other available free agents, Bill Hall seems to be the lukewarm favorite from an undistinguished group. Playing part-time in Boston this year, Hall hit .247 with 18 homers and 46 RBIs. His best year was 2006, when he slugged 35 homers with 85 RBIs while playing for the Brewers. He made $8.525 million in 2010 and would be looking at a significant cut from that to sign with the Dodgers. Hall also can play the middle infield, another asset Colletti values.
Also on the Dodgers' radar for left fielder are free agents Marcus Thames and Scott and Jerry Hairston. Outfielder Xavier Paul is expected to get a chance to make the club in Spring Training because he, like infielder Chin-lung Hu, is out of options. Colletti said there's a chance he'll sign nobody now, let the internal candidates get a shot, then make a move if needed as the season unfolds.
From media reports, Russell Martin is being pursued by the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays, making his Dodger return very unlikely.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.