Dodgers' Takashi Saito and four others become free agents
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.
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