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Dodgers, Gibbons agree to one-year pact

Dodgers, Gibbons agree to one-year pact

LOS ANGELES -- Shortly after Scott Podsednik declined a $2 million salary to play for the Dodgers in 2011, the club announced that another left-handed-hitting outfielder, Jay Gibbons, had agreed to terms on a one-year deal for one-third the pay.

"And I'm very happy to have the job," said Gibbons, who will earn $650,000, with another $150,000 in plate-appearance incentives. "Playing here, living here, I'm very comfortable here and excited to have a chance to win with the Dodgers."

Earlier in the day, Podsednik declined to pick up his part of a mutual option to return to the Dodgers for 2011 and became a free agent. The Dodgers on Tuesday had exercised their half of the option.

Gibbons will provide more power than Podsednik, who would have provided top-of-the-order insurance should Rafael Furcal encounter further injuries. With Matt Kemp in center and Andre Ethier in right, Gibbons figures to be a platoon left fielder or the fourth outfielder, with the versatility to play first base.

When the season ended, general manager Ned Colletti listed three players he would try to re-sign before losing exclusive negotiation rights: Gibbons, pitcher Ted Lilly and catcher Rod Barajas. Only Barajas remains unsigned.

Gibbons, who will be 34 next season, is one of the more amazing recent reclamation stories. A one-time slugger for the Baltimore Orioles, he was named in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs and couldn't get a job, even when he sent letters to every club asking for another chance.

He tried to make his way back by playing independent league ball but that didn't work out. Gibbons was planning to be a volunteer high school assistant coach in 2010 when the Dodgers called with a Minor League job but no invitation to Major League camp.

Gibbons took it, hit .347 with 19 home runs at Triple-A Albuquerque and earned his way back to the Major Leagues with an August callup. He hit .280 with five home runs and 17 RBIs for the Dodgers, getting unexpected playing time after Manny Ramirez was claimed by the White Sox.

"Right now, it looks like my role will be a left-handed hitter off the bench and spot starter, and I'm happy with that," said Gibbons, who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Westlake Village with his wife and three children.

"I'm happy to have a job. A year ago today, if you told me I'd have a Major League job with the Dodgers, it would have been a little hard to believe. But it seems like a perfect fit."

Despite the three-year exile, Gibbons has serious Major League credentials. With the Orioles, he slugged as many as 28 home runs in 2002 and 100 RBIs in 2003, when he played in 160 games.

"I expect [management] will bring somebody else in and I hope they do so we can be the best team possible," Gibbons said, speculating on the arrival of a middle-of-the-order hitter. "You never know what can happen. I saw that last year."

Gibbons said he was asked at the end of the season about playing first base. He said there had been some talk about winter ball, but nothing recently.

"I prefer first base, to be honest, but we have a good player there now," he said of James Loney. "I would do it if they asked."

Loney, in line for a salary boost through arbitration, is one player the Dodgers could deal for a power hitter.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["hot_stove" ] }
{"content":["hot_stove" ] }