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Dodgers need to tender Tony Gwynn Jr.

December 12, 2011 | 12:24 pm

Tony-gwynn-jr_600

The hours are ticking away and Tony Gwynn Jr. waits.

Can we do away with the suspense? Do the Dodgers really need to play this game of contract chicken with Gwynn? Make the deal, or tender him a contract and go to arbitration. Seems simple enough.

Unless, of course, the Dodgers could be playing another game — how low can you go?

Gwynn is the one Dodger who is uncertain whether the Dodgers will officially tender him a contract prior to Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline. I’ll go out on a thin limb here and say I’m pretty sure Clayton Kershaw gets tendered. Andre Ethier and, yes, James Loney, are going to be offered contracts. Hong-Chin Kuo, sadly, is not expected to receive an offer.

And that leaves Gwynn, who went through this last season with the Padres, who non-tendered him. Which made him available to sign with the Dodgers, which he did at what proved to be a bargain price at $675,000.

Gwynn played more than expected (a career-high 136 games) and better than most anticipated. He was as strong as advertised defensively, a little better than expected offensively and stole 22 bases.

In most ways, he was the ideal extra outfielder. And still would be.

So don’t risk losing him over a comparatively small amount of dough. If the bankrupt Dodgers are really planning on playing Juan Rivera in left most days, they’ll need Gwynn just as much this season as last. And although Jerry Hairston Jr. could play center if — deep breath here — injury were to befall Matt Kemp, Gwynn is the better defensive outfielder.

In a text to Dodgers.com's Ken Gurnick, Gwynn said he was uncertain how it would all play out. Bring him back and end the suspense.

MORE:

Dodgers won't add an MVP, no matter what happens to Ryan Braun

Scott Boras: Dodgers, Mets shopping in 'fruits-and-nuts category'

Bill Plaschke: Ryan Braun needs to follow his own advice

— Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Tony Gwynn Jr. gets ready for batting practice last season. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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