Dodgers, Padilla close on new contract

Dodgers, Padilla close on new contract

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Dodgers, despite already having five established starting pitchers, are close to a contract agreement with 2010 Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla, according to multiple baseball sources.

The one-year deal is believed to be for $2 million, plus incentives.

The deal is contingent on Padilla passing a physical exam on Thursday. He missed significant time in 2010 with arm and neck injuries.

With the Dodgers having already loaded their starting rotation, they see Padilla serving as a utility man capable of spot starting, throwing multiple innings in long relief and even providing late-inning insurance with uncertainty over closer Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo's history of arm problems.

Padilla is coming off an injury-plagued 2010, when he went 6-5 with a 4.07 ERA and made only 16 starts. He missed two months early in the season with right forearm nerve discomfort and most of the final month with a bulging disk in his neck.

In a strange way, Padilla's injuries are part of the reason the club still wanted him, 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.

Apparently, the injuries have convinced the 33-year-old Padilla that he might be more effective in a role other than an innings-eating starter. 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 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 multiyear deal.

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