10/27/2003 3:20 PM ET Deadline looms for LA free agents By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Paul Quantrill has a guaranteed $3.1 million contract for 2004, unless he opts out. (Juan Ocampo/Dodgers)
LOS ANGELES -- With the conclusion of the World Series, the Dodgers now must deal with their 10 players eligible to file for free agency over a 15-day span beginning Monday. Those players are pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Andy Ashby, Tom Martin and Paul Quantrill; outfielders Jeromy Burnitz, Rickey Henderson and Brian Jordan; and infielders Ron Coomer, Fred McGriff and Robin Ventura.
The Dodgers figure to make a priority of retaining Alvarez, Martin and Quantrill. The latter has a 2004 salary of $3.1 million guaranteed, more than he is likely to find on the open market, but he has an opt-out of the contract that he may exercise. As Eric Gagne's set-up man, Quantrill led the Major Leagues with 89 appearances and had a 1.75 ERA.
Although general manager Dan Evans has made no formal announcement, it is common knowledge that the Dodgers have no interest in picking up the 2004 options they hold for Ashby and Jordan, aging players who underwent major season-ending operations.
Ashby, 36, has an option for $8.5 million. He underwent Tommy John reconstruction surgery that concluded one of the most disappointing stints in Dodger free agent history. He ended the 2003 season 3-10 with a 5.18 ERA, bringing his three-year totals to 14-23 and 4.09. In that time he received $22.5 million in salary.
Brian Jordan / RF Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 Bats/Throws: R/R
More info: Player page Stats Splits Hit chart Dodgers site
Jordan, 36, has an option for $10.5 million and instead will receive a $2.5 million buyout. To an extent less than Ashby, Jordan nonetheless was a disappointment in his two Dodger seasons after being acquired from Atlanta in the Gary Sheffield deal. He was injured the entire time with a damaged patella tendon. He played with the injury in 2002, hitting .285 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs.
When he re-injured the knee in June, he was hitting .299 with six homers and 28 RBIs. But facing free agency, he declined to play with the injury as he did the previous season, instead leaving the team to have a second operation so he would be healed in time to land a free-agent contract.
Fred McGriff, who turns 40 Friday, is another aging player whose 2003 season was hampered by injury and will not return. McGriff spent his first two stints on the disabled list in a 17-year career. His 13 home runs and 40 RBIs were the worst of his career.
The departures of Ashby, Jordan and McGriff will remove nearly $20 million from the payroll, although raises for arbitration-eligible players like Eric Gagne, Adrian Beltre, Odalis Perez and Guillermo Mota will absorb much of that.
The club also would have an additional $4 million paid to Jeromy Burnitz for his two months as a Dodger. If he were to re-sign with the club, it would be at a significant cut from the $12 million salary from his former contract.
Wilson Alvarez / P
Height: 6'1" Weight: 245 Bats/Throws: L/L
More info: Player page Stats Splits dodgers.com
Two of the biggest surprises of the season were Wilson Alvarez and Tom Martin, left-handed pitchers trying to battle back from repeated arm injuries. Alvarez was 6-2 with a 2.37 ERA splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation. Martin set a franchise record for appearances by a left-hander with 80, going 1-2 with a 3.53 ERA.
Utilitymen Coomer and Ventura provided veteran leadership, but not the offense the club hoped for. Coomer, 37 next month, hit .240 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 125 at-bats, while Ventura, 36, hit .220 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 109 at-bats. The Dodgers paid Coomer $500,000 for the entire year and Ventura roughly $1.7 million for two months.
There has been no indication that the Dodgers would retain Henderson, 44 years old and having undergone shoulder surgery this month.
If Alvarez stays with the Dodgers, he could be a nice pickup next year.
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