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Dodgers' Takashi Saito and four others become free agents

Takashi Saito

Takashi Saito became a free agent Friday night when the Dodgers opted not to tender the former All-Star closer a contract because of concerns about his elbow.

The Dodgers also did not tender contracts to shortstop Angel Berroa, relievers Scott Proctor and Yhency Brazoban and minor league pitcher Mario Alvarez.

Saito, 38, saved 81 games in his three seasons with the Dodgers, and figured to get a significant raise from his 2008 salary of $2 million if he had gone to arbitration, for which was eligible for the first time. That was a risk the Dodgers didn’t want to take, not with Saito having missed two months of the 2008 season because of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. The club offered an incentive-laden one-year deal that was declined.

The Dodgers can still re-sign Saito, whom they signed to a minor league contract before the 2005 season.

“The door’s still open,” Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said.

Saito’s potential departure leaves 24-year-old Jonathan Broxton as the top candidate to be the Dodgers’ closer.

But the Dodgers aren’t entirely convinced Broxton can handle the role - “He’s shown signs he can do it and he’s shown signs he’s not ready to do it yet,” Colletti said - and have expressed interest in signing free agent Trevor Hoffman. Colletti also named left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo as an internal candidate if Saito signs elsewhere.

Colletti said the Dodgers are interested in re-signing Berroa, who started at shortstop when Rafael Furcal was hurt. Brazoban and Alvarez could be re-signed to minor-league deals.

-- Dylan Hernandez

Photo:  Takashi Saito walks in the outfield before batting practice before Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

 
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