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Dodgers elect to non-tender Russell Martin; reach deal with Rod Barajas [Updated]

December 2, 2010 |  9:42 pm

If there was no right answer, at least there is finally an answer.

The Dodgers elected to non-tender catcher Russell Martin on Thursday, leaving him a free agent.

The Dodgers were apparently attempting to trade Martin right up against the 9 p.m. deadline before electing not to offer him a contract.

[Updated:] After officially passing on Martin, the Dodgers promptly reached an agreement with catcher Rod Barajas, The Times' Dylan Hernandez reported. It is for one year, pending a physical.

Barajas, 35, was a late-season pickup for the Dodgers last season, hitting .297 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 64 at-bats. Including his time with the Mets, he had 17 home runs and 45 RBI on the season.

If they had signed Martin, he would have been eligible for arbitration and probably would have earned at least $6 million. He made $5.05 million last season. He has been their regular catcher for the last five seasons.

Hernandez reports that Martin's last offer to the Dodgers was for $5 million, with another $1 million in incentives.

Martin, 27, is now free to negotiate with any team willing to take a chance on his returning from a severe hip injury.

Martin suffered the injury Aug. 2, after awkwardly crossing home plate to avoid a tag and fracturing his hip. He did not return the rest of the season, but did not have surgery.

He has yet to start running, let alone getting in a crouch, so it is almost impossible for the Dodgers to be certain if he would be able to catch next season, or how much.

Even before the injury, his decreasing production had become a concern. He hit a career-low .248 last season, with five home runs and 26 RBI in 331 at-bats.

Martin could still re-sign with the Dodgers, and now there will be no restrictions on how much they could reduce his salary. Hernandez said the Dodgers remain interested in Martin, but as a part-time catcher.

The free-agent pool of catchers is dwindling. John Buck previously signed with Florida, and on Thursday A.J. Pierzynski re-signed with the White Sox and Jason Varitek with the Red Sox.

Miguel Olivo and Barajas were two of the few catchers still available. The only current Dodger with major league catching experience is A.J. Ellis.

As expected, the Dodgers also elected to non-tender reliever George Sherrill and outfielder Trent Oeltjen.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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