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It's Official: Dodgers Sign Zeile

December 09, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

As expected, the Dodgers ended their search for a full-time third baseman Sunday, signing Todd Zeile to a three-year contract worth more than $10 million.

"He'll give us good power, good on-base percentage and he's a good competitor," said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president. "He's going to fit this team fine."

Zeile, 31, split the 1996 season between the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles and hit .263 with a career-high 25 homers and 99 RBIs in 163 games.

"I grew up a Dodger fan," Zeile said. "My dad went to the first game ever in Dodger Stadium and still has his tickets."

Zeile, a native of Van Nuys who lives 28 miles from Dodger Stadium, played at UCLA with Dodger first baseman Eric Karros.

"Eric and I have been talking back and forth. He's been pulling for this," Zeile said. "We always said it would be great to get back into the same infield together."

Zeile, the Dodgers' 25th third baseman since 1986, said there were more lucrative offers elsewhere, "but L.A. was the No. 1 place to go."

Zeile signed the Dodgers' biggest free-agent contract for a position player since Brett Butler and Darryl Strawberry in 1990.

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