Dodgers Interested In Loaiza

According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dodgers have "genuine interest" in Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza.  The 35 year-old righty has been excellent in two starts against the Blue Jays since coming off the DL.

Loaiza was coming off a fine 34-start 2005 season for the Nationals when the A’s signed him to a three year, $21MM pact. I wasn’t high on the deal at the time, though it’s more palatable given some of the starting pitching deals that followed.

Loaiza pitched for Mexico in the WBC in March of ’06.  He reached April with a marked decline in velocity, and the A’s blamed his early struggles on the tournament.  Spasms in his non-throwing shoulder surfaced later that month.  On the first of May he hit the DL with a strained trapezius muscle.

He returned in June to mediocre results, but his velocity had returned.  He snagged a DUI later that month, driving 120 mph in his Ferrari while drunk.  The incident prompted the A’s to ban alcohol in both the home and visitor clubhouses.  Loaiza was healthy but awful in July of ’06.  In August he was surprisingly lights out in winning four starts with a 1.48 ERA.  Loaiza even touched 95 on the gun in a start that month.  He ended up making a couple of playoff starts – one decent, one lousy.

This spring, tightness in Loaiza’s pitching shoulder and a bulging disc in his neck surfaced.  His rehab was delayed due to a torn meniscus in his knee, which he had surgery for in June.  He finally returned this month, and is working in the 86-88 mph range.  With $8MM due next year, it’s possible Loaiza cleared waivers.  However, we only have speculation on that currently.  A switch back to the NL would not be a bad move at this stage in his career, and the Dodgers are still short on starting pitching even with David Wells in tow. 

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