The Dodgers reached agreements with their six remaining arbitration-eligible players Tuesday, including outfielder Andre Ethier and closer Jonathan Broxton, who could sign two-year contracts as early as today.
In the hours leading up to the deadline for players and clubs to exchange salary figures, the Dodgers also signed Russell Martin, James Loney, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo to one-year deals.
General Manager Ned Colletti would not confirm the signings of Ethier and Broxton, which will not become official until they pass their physical examinations, but said that the Dodgers now have the kind of cost clarity that could result in increased maneuverability on the free-agent market.
"We have a better feel for what we have," Colletti said.
The signings of Ethier, Martin and Loney will mean that the Dodgers will return seven of the eight starting position players from last year's National League West champion.
Colletti said the Dodgers are expecting to hear back in the coming days from a starting pitcher they are pursuing. Although he declined to name the pitcher, Colletti is known to be in contact with the agents of Joel Pineiro, Vicente Padilla, Braden Looper and Jon Garland.
The Dodgers spent nearly $40 million on Tuesday, including $15.25 million on Ethier and $11 million on Broxton, according to baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deals have not been finalized. Broxton's deal buys him out of his final two years of arbitration and Ethier's buys him out of two of his remaining three.
The Dodgers signed Matt Kemp to a two-year, $10.95-million deal last week, meaning they are assured of avoiding arbitration with at least three of their key players next season.
Loney was also approached about a multiyear contract but opted to sign a one-year, $3.1-million deal instead. Loney was paid $465,000 last year.
Colletti said he asked Manager Joe Torre for input before approaching players about multiyear commitments.
"One of the dynamics we always have to think about is how the financial situation will change a player's perspective and priorities," Colletti said. "We spent a lot of time watching and listening. And in talking to Joe, he thought we were doing the right thing."
Ethier, who earned $3.2 million last year, will receive $6 million this year. Broxton, who was paid $1.975 million in 2009, will get $4 million.
Martin will be paid $5.05 million (up from $3.9 million last year), Sherrill $4.5 million ($2.75 million last year) and Kuo $950,000 ($437,000 last year).
The Dodgers started the off-season with nine players eligible for salary arbitration, including Chad Billingsley and Jason Repko, who were signed to one-year contacts for $3.85 million and $500,000, respectively. Collectively, the group received $17.78 million in raises for the 2010 season and will earn a total of $31.95 million.
Catcher J.D. Closser was signed to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, but the Dodgers are still trying to re-sign veteran Brad Ausmus to back up Martin. . . . The Dodgers are in talks with left-hander Rich Hill about a minor league contract. Hill, 29, posted a 7.80 earned-run average for Baltimore last year in 14 games, including 13 starts. . . . The Dodgers were among the teams that had a scout at free-agent pitcher Ben Sheets' workout in Louisiana.