Colletti feels new Dodgers fit in perfectly
Gonzalez, Schmidt both possess much playoff experience
LOS ANGELES -- There's not much mystery to the type of players Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti acquires.
They are usually veterans, usually with postseason experience, mostly including the World Series.
Colletti was on a Friday media conference call introducing his two latest prizes, and they fit the mold: new rotation ace Jason Schmidt and left fielder Luis Gonzalez. Schmidt is an 11-year veteran who won a game in the 2002 World Series against the Angels, and Gonzalez is a 17-year veteran whose walk-off single carried Arizona to its 2001 World Series championship against the Yankees.
Schmidt signed a three-year, $47 million deal as the cornerstone of Colletti's offseason retooling. Gonzalez is a one-year quick fix to bridge the Dodgers from the blindside departure of J.D. Drew to the presumed arrival of Matt Kemp. They join offseason additions Juan Pierre (World Series winner in '03), Randy Wolf and Mike Lieberthal. Of the 12 players on the current 40-man roster that Colletti acquired, 10 have postseason experience, five bring World Series experience, and six have been All-Stars.
"Everybody we've added brings something special," said Colletti. "They've been through many seasons, many winning seasons, and they come in with a certain perspective that a player who hasn't been through it can't have. They've been through the peaks and valleys, the ups and downs, and know how to keep it going in the right direction. When they walk in the room, everybody knows who they are and what they bring."
Both players said they chose the Dodgers, even bypassing more lucrative offers, because they feel the club is poised to go far in October.
"You watch the moves they've been making, and it was kind of a no-brainer to play for the Dodgers," said Gonzalez, 39. "Every player that gets to a World Series wants to get there again. You look at the team they've put together, on paper it looks very good, and now it's up to us to go on the field and get to the next step."
Schmidt, 34 next month, asked for only three years because he's not sure he wants to play longer than that. But he said he's as "healthy as I think I can get" despite a series of nagging groin injuries, and said he picked the Dodgers because of a comfort level with Colletti and new trainer Stan Conte from their days together with the Giants.
Colletti said Schmidt has "the ability to dominate a game. When you get to the postseason, you need the ability Jason Schmidt brings.
"Jason is as durable as anybody on our staff -- just look at the innings he's thrown," the GM said. "There's always a risk, but Conte knows him well. We feel he's fine. With the innings he's pitched, this guy stays in shape. He works out all winter."
The relatively short term of Schmidt's contract might prove to be as much of a coup as the signing itself. The Dodgers over the past decade have now spent $873 million on 38 multiyear deals, and almost every one longer than three years they've regretted to varying degrees. Those would include Kevin Brown (seven years), Shawn Green (six years), Darren Dreifort and J.D. Drew (each five years).
Schmidt's contract calls for salaries of $12.5 million, $12 million and $12 million, with a $10.5 million signing bonus to be paid between 2008-2011. Deferring payment of the signing bonus discounts the present-day value of the contract to a little more than $46 million.
Gonzalez signed for $7.35 million. The Dodgers currently have 18 players under contract in 2007 at about $109 million and the remaining players will probably total about $10 million. Of those, four -- Mark Hendrickson, Joe Beimel, Toby Hall and Jayson Werth -- are eligible for salary arbitration. Hendrickson figures to receive around $4 million and Beimel $1 million. Hall could be non-tendered, and Werth has no leverage after missing the entire 2006 season with wrist injuries.
Colletti said he might start calling around next week, presumably to look for a big bat, with Toronto's Vernon Wells the most likely target. He will be a free agent after next season and the Blue Jays are looking for pitching, which makes them a fitting trade partner. The Mets are also believed to be interested in Wells, knowing that he will be using the $16 million-$17 million annual salaries of Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano as benchmarks.
Speaking of Drew, the circumstances surrounding his exercising an opt-out clause, and then signing a five-year, $70 million deal with Boston, are being put to the smell test. The club is considering filing a tampering charge against the Red Sox.
"We've looked into it," said Colletti. "Beyond that, there's nothing new to say at this point."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.