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Rod Barajas wants to return; do Dodgers want to go young?

September 6, 2011 |  6:38 am


Say this for catcher Rod Barajas, he gave the Dodgers exactly what they expected this season. Solid defensively and with some nice power.

Now he wonders if they’ll want it again.

Barajas will be a free agent at the end of the season and he doesn’t hide his desire to return to his hometown Dodgers next year.

"This is definitely a place I never want to leave," Barajas said. "If I could stick around with the Dodgers for the rest of my career, that is definitely what I want."

What the bankrupt Dodgers want is uncertain, although these days, cheaper is always good. The Dodgers are expected to call up catcher Tim Federowicz from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, and they called up catcher A.J. Ellis just two weeks ago.

They are considering going with Federowicz –- the catcher acquired from Boston in the Trayvon Robinson trade July 31 –- and Ellis next year, which carries risk.

Federowicz spent his season with double-A Portland, before his trade to the Dodgers and batting .325 with 6 homers and 17 RBI (.431 on-base percentage, 1.058 slugging percentage) in the hitting-conducive Pacific Coast League.

In his brief return with the Dodgers, Ellis is eight for 19 (.421), with the first two home runs of his career. He’s a career .260 hitter in brief parts of four seasons.

There would be a lot of uncertainty by depending on two catchers with limited major league experience. The Dodgers could elect to begin the season with Federowicz starting a full season at Albuquerque and using Ellis as the backup in the majors.

But the backup to whom?

This season Barajas –- who turned 36 on Monday –- has hit .236 with 15 home runs, which is second on the team, and 41 RBIs. He has been a solid presence behind the plate and a calming, veteran influence on the pitching staff.

This while splitting starts throughout most of the year with Dioner Navarro. A role Barajas has no problem with.

"Everybody knows I love it here," he said. "This is where I grew up, this is my team. Playing two out of every three days, there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, that’s kind of my comfort level –- playing four or five times a week."

The Dodgers signed Barajas to a one-year, $3.25-million contract last winter. They could save almost $3 million by not bringing him back and going with Ellis and Federowicz. If they’re going after a big bat, they’re going to have to save money somewhere.

Barajas gave the Dodgers what they asked for thi season, though what they ask next for could be some modest financial relief.


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Photo: Dodgers catcher Rod Barajas retrieves his mask during a game against the Phillies at Dodger Stadium this season. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images