Dodgers sign Tony Gwynn Jr. to two-year, $2-million deal
And it didn’t go down to the absolute wire or anything.
The Dodgers did right Monday, signing outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a two-year, $2-million contract only hours before the deadline to tender him or lose him to free agency.
That’s probably a year more than most might have expected, but General Manager Ned Colletti has been on something of a two-year contract binge this off-season.
Gwynn, 29, will receive $850,000 next season and $1.15 million in 2013. Gwynn told The Times' Dylan Hernandez that the Dodgers approached him Thursday and the deal was completed over the weekend.
"The first offer they made me was a two-year deal,'' Gwynn said. "I hadn’t even thought of that. When they came with a two-year deal, my ears immediately perked up.''
The two-year contract will carry him through his arbitration years. He can become a free agent at the end of this deal.
Gwynn was not tendered a contract by the San Diego Padres after hitting .204 in 2010, enabling him to originally sign with the Dodgers.
"I was a lot more calm with the whole process [this year],'' Gwynn told Hernandez. "I was coming off a much better season. I was comfortable going through the whole process. I knew I was going to have a job somewhere. But I wanted to stay here. I really enjoyed the coaching staff. I enjoyed being with the players.''
Averaging $1 million per year is hardly an unreasonable amount for a reserve outfielder as versatile, and who was used as much last season, as Gwynn.
in his first season with the Dodgers, Gwynn appeared in a career-high 136 games, batting .256 with 37 runs and 22 stolen bases in 312 at-bats.
The Dodgers' starting outfield is set with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera, though Gwynn could still play a reasonable amount of time in left field for Rivera, who also plays first, and as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Colletti has tried to add strong defensive players this season, and Gwynn continues with that trend.
"That suits me really well,'' Gwynn said. "That’s not just a Dodger thing. If you’re able to go out and get some of the bigger hitters, that’s nice. But a lot of times, games are won on defense and pitching. I’ve been on teams where the offense wasn’t very good, but the defense was, and when it came down to one run, it gave us an edge.''
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. slides safely into second base with a steal as Braves second baseman Dan Uggla tries to handle the throw during a game last season at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times