Garciaparra remains with Dodgers

Garciaparra agrees to deal, returns to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Monday announced the re-signing of National League Comeback Player of the Year Nomar Garciaparra to a two-year contract worth $18.5 million.

Already looking for one power hitter, current management's interest in retaining Garciaparra soared after getting blindsided by the departure of right fielder J.D. Drew, who earlier this month exercised an option to void the final three years of his contract and took his 100 RBIs to the free-agent market.

"Nomar played a huge role in the Dodgers' success last season and an offensive threat like him is not easy to find," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. "His versatility, mental toughness, clutch performances and leadership capabilities make him a perfect fit for this team."

Garciaparra will get a $2.5 million signing bonus, a salary of $7.5 million next season and $8.5 million in 2008, according to The Associated Press. His deal also contains performance bonuses.

"I wanted to be back; it was my first choice and what I focused on," Garciaparra said. "I'm glad I didn't have to draw my attention anywhere else. I really enjoy putting on that uniform. They asked me my feelings about a position change. Look, I changed positions last year. My attitude is the same: whatever they feel gives us the best opportunity to win. I'm sure I'll play some first base. Maybe there'll be times I play another position. I'm open to it, ready and willing. If they need me to catch, I'll catch."

In his first season as a Dodger, Garciaparra hit .303 with 20 homers and 93 RBIs, and he was named an All-Star for the fifth time. But he also missed 40 games entirely and played in maybe 40 more while nursing significant injuries, which contributed to an offensive slump in which he hit only .229 after the All-Star break, compared to .358 before the break (second-highest in Los Angeles history).

Garciaparra, 33, went on the disabled list twice in 2006 -- with a strained intercostal (rib cage) muscle in April and a sprained right knee ligament in late July -- and he played most of September with a pulled quad muscle worthy of being disabled. In fact, he aggravated it in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Mets and was limited to pinch-hitting in Game 3. He said his leg injuries are healing and he'll be ready for the start of Spring Training.

"You rarely have a perfect scenario," Colletti said Friday about the likely re-signing of Garciaparra. "You take everything into consideration. No matter who it is, you take a chance with a guaranteed contract. With Nomar, you know how hard he works, how much he cares. If he gets hurt, it's not for lack of effort. It's because he's doing everything he can to win a game.

"Almost the best guarantee is how somebody takes care of himself. You don't have to have an injury history to get injured. You need players. If you wait for somebody who's never been hurt, I don't know when you'd put your team together."

Garciaparra, a native Angeleno and immediate fan favorite, was available to join the Dodgers a year ago because of a continuing trend of injuries that limited him to 81 games in 2004 and 62 games in 2005. He signed with the Dodgers for a $6 million base salary and earned an additional $2.5 million in performance-based incentives.

Demonstrating a flair for the dramatic, he ranked among the National League leaders in batting average with runners in scoring position (.368, fifth), average against left-handers (.341, tied for third) and grand slams (2, tied for second). He was the second-toughest player in the Majors to strike out, fanning just once every 17.4 plate appearances, and he had a 22-game hitting streak from June 16 to July 13, the fourth-longest in the NL.

Garciaparra hit .324 (73-for-224) with nine homers and 47 RBIs at Dodger Stadium. On Sept. 18, he hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning after the Dodgers tied a Major League record with four consecutive homers in the ninth inning. He finished the season with a .318 career average, fifth-best among all active players behind Todd Helton, Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Vladimir Guerrero.

Garciaparra accomplished this while playing first base for the first time in his career, and he handled the position well, committing only four errors.

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