According to ESPN.com and other sources, the Dodgers have signed Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year deal worth between $6 and $8MM. He’ll play first base, a position he’s never played in his Major League career. The move from shortstop to first shouldn’t be a major hurdle. Grady Little will have an extra infielder on his hands when Cesar Izturis returns, but that’s not really a bad thing.
The Dodgers have begun to craft a solid veteran lineup. They will be relying on the health of players like Garciaparra, J.D. Drew, and possibly Reggie Sanders.
With Garciaparra off the free agent market, the options are slim for the Orioles and Astros. Both have vacancies they hoped to fill via free agency. The Astros will likely settle for Rondell White or Juan Encarnacion for their outfield. A signing would illustrate a lack of confidence in Jeff Bagwell’s ability to play first base on a regular basis. A retirement would be a classy move by Bagwell that would save the team $17MM. Obviously he’s entitled to the full terms of his contract, but maybe the team can convince him to retire with a $10MM buyout. The Astros are already on the hook for Bagwell’s $7MM buyout for 2008.
This offseason, the Orioles managed to snag the best available catcher in Ramon Hernandez and upset Javy Lopez in the process. Look for Lopez to be shipped off in what’s become a buyer’s market. After all, Bengie Molina is still available and could take a one year deal at this point. Lopez will make $8.5MM in the last year of his contract in 2006. Lopez could be a decent fit in San Diego should the Padres realize that Doug Mirabelli is not a starting catcher.
A Damon signing doesn’t make sense for the Orioles at this point, who probably don’t have the players to place better than 4th in the AL East. The O’s should ship catcher Eli Whiteside and/or a mid-level pitching prospect off to Philadelphia for Jason Michaels. They can promote outfielder Nick Markakis by midseason to round out the outfield.