The Dodgers are on the verge of their fourth significant signing of what has been a surprisingly active off-season after reaching an agreement Monday with infielder Juan Uribe on a three-year, $21-million deal.
One of the stars of the San Francisco Giants' run to the World Series title, Uribe is scheduled to undergo a physical examination Tuesday. If he passes, that would make the contract official, according to baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't finalized.
Uribe was scheduled to travel Monday night from his home in the Dominican Republic to Los Angeles.
Counting Uribe's deal, the Dodgers have spent more than $71 million on free agents, including $33 million for Ted Lilly, $12 million for Hiroki Kuroda and $5 million for Jon Garland.
With the start of the winter meetings six days away, the Dodgers' projected 2011 payroll is already more than $100 million, including salary deferrals for players who are no longer with the team. The team's payroll peaked at about $95 million last season.
Uribe, 31, set career highs with 24 home runs and 85 runs batted in last season. He played a pivotal role in the Giants' title run, hitting two home runs and driving in nine runs in 14 postseason games.
But there's a drawback. A free swinger, Uribe batted .248 last season and has a career on-base percentage of .300 over 10 major league seasons.
Uribe figures to hit in the middle of a lineup that already has a couple of high-strikeout players in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Kemp struck out a franchise-record 170 times last season and Ethier struck out 102 times in 139 games.
With Rafael Furcal still under contract, Uribe is expected to play second base rather than shortstop, his primary position last season.
His arrival could result in the departure of Ryan Theriot, who started at second base after being acquired along with Lilly from the Chicago Cubs at the trading deadline. Theriot posted a .633 OPS (on-base plus slugging) that was the third-worst in the National League. Although he remains under club control, the Dodgers might let him go to avoid giving him a raise from the $2.6 million he made last season.
Uribe could also provide cover at shortstop for the injury-prone Furcal and offer rookie Manager Don Mattingly an option at third base other than 37-year-old Casey Blake.
Furcal and Blake are entering the final year of their contracts. Blake's deal includes a team option for 2012.
With Uribe under contract, the Dodgers can focus on finding a left fielder, adding a relief pitcher and figuring out what they will do at catcher.
The deadline for teams to tender contracts to players under their control is on Thursday, and the Dodgers are considering parting ways with catcher Russell Martin.
Martin made $5.05 million last season and could earn more than $6 million in the arbitration process if he is tendered a contract. Martin's agent, Matt Colleran, said that he and the Dodgers have exchanged "general ideas" about a pre-deadline deal that would ensure the team avoids the arbitration process, but that the club hasn't presented his client with a formal offer.
Colleran said Monday that he last spoke to the Dodgers about a week ago.