Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dodgers have interest in Daniel Murphy, plus arbitration news

The Dodgers are apparently enamored with the Mets' Daniel Murphy, as the club tried to acquire him during the Winter Meetings, reported by Ken Gurnick of

Gurnick also wrote the Dodgers still might make a run at him.

Murphy, 26, put up a nice triple slash line last season -- .320/.362/.448 -- before suffering a season-ending left MCL tear in August. Murphy's short career has produced some solid numbers so far and at 26 (27 in April), he could be looking to bust out -- if he's recovered from his knee injury.

Fortunately for Murphy, the MCL is less vital than the ACL, so, in theory, he should recover from it. The proof lies with him tearing the MCL in his right knee, causing him to miss the entire 2010 season. He made it back from that just fine, so there's no reason to think he won't make it back from this tear.

There's no inkling as to what it'd take to acquire Murphy's services, but the Dodgers' plethora of right-handed pitchers could be in play. I'm not saying guys like Zach Lee or Allen Webster, but maybe guys like Chris Withrow, Shawn Tolleson and Steve Ames could interest the Mets.

Versatility seems to be the name of the game for the Dodgers, an Murphy is no exception. While he isn't known for his glove, he can play three different infield position and a little bit of left field. Third base appears to be his weakest position (where the Dodgers could use him most) and he could be passable at second base (where his bat would play best).

However, he's played mostly first base in his career and if the Dodgers were to acquire him, that's probably where he'd play.

Of course, that depends on whether the Dodgers offer incumbent first baseman James Loney a contract. In July, it seemed like a no-brainer that Loney would be gone. In October, it seemed all but certain he'd be tendered a contract. Now in December, question surround his November arrest and the fact he'll be due somewhere in the area of $6 to 7 million in arbitration.

All indications are the Dodgers will tender Loney a contract. The deadline is 9 p.m. Monday night.

Other players who need to be tendered before tomorrow night are Tony Gwynn and Hong-Chih Kuo.

Kuo is nearly certain to not be tendered a contract. He's undergone his fifth elbow operation and has contemplated retirement. It's so sad because in 2010, he was one of baseball's best relievers (not just lefties). In 2011, he was one of baseball's worst.

Gwynn is another story. The defensive specialist base-stealer could be looking for another team in less than 24 hours. However, it'd be a mistake for the Dodgers to not retain Gwynn's services.

Other than Matt Kemp, there isn't another outfielder who has a shot of breaking camp with the Dodgers who can legitimately play center field:

Andre Ethier
Juan Rivera
Jerry Sands

None of these guys could play even a passable center field. Newly signed Jerry Hairston could, but is that enough?

I wrote in March that Gwynn had a chance to fill a couple voids on the Dodgers'. While he failed to do that, there is still value in his glove and speed. He also shouldn't make too terribly much in the arbitration process (around $1 million or so at best), so it makes sense to try and retain his services.

If the Dodgers have their eyes on Murphy, Chase Headley or Hideki Matsui, Gwynn can start submitting his résumé to other teams.

It'd also mean Sands would likely begin the season in Triple-A, as not getting every day at-bats isn't going to help him any. I was for the Juan Rivera signing, but that was when I thought the Dodgers might trade Ethier. Now, the signing looks like a colossal waste of $4.5 million (I realize $4.5 million isn't a lot of money in baseball, but it is when a team is pinching its pennies as hard as the Dodgers are).

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