The Dodgers have signed four non-roster players with invitations to Major League Spring Training, and are close to adding a fifth. The four signed are: Jose Ascanio, a right-handed relief pitcher; Jeff Baisley, a corner infielder; Wil Ledezma, a left-handed reliever; and Shane Lindsay, a right-handed reliever.
A tentative agreement has been reached with left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo, a 35-year-old from Cuba who had a 2.31 ERA in 17 games in 2011 for the Diamondbacks, his eighth organization. He missed the month of August with shoulder tendinitis. Ledezma and Castillo could compete to replace Hong-Chih Kuo as a lefty in the bullpen to go with Scott Elbert.
– Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers have asked representatives of Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw if they had interest in a contract extension, a baseball source confirmed, but no serious talks have taken place, according to an ESPN report. Kershaw is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after making $500,000 this year and could earn upwards of $8 million through a hearing. General manager Ned Colletti has previously downplayed the chances of a long-term deal with Kershaw at this time because, from the club’s standpoint, it would need to buy up some years of free agency. That would necessitate it being for longer than three years, which raises the injury risk, particularly for a pitcher. The Dodgers gave MVP runner-up Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million contract extension last month, but Kemp was only one year away from free agency. Kershaw turns 24 in March. — Ken Gurnick
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti confirmed that wayward reliever Ronald Belisario has been working with government officials to resolve visa issues so he can pitch again for the Dodgers after missing the 2011 season. Belisario was a mainstay as a rookie in 2009, but has had visa a drug issues since. — Ken Gurnick
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said not only must Hiroki Kuroda decide if he wants to pitch another year for the Dodgers, but the Dodgers must decide if they can fit him into their reduced payroll. Kuroda earned $12 million in 2011 and had his best season as a Dodger. Free agent Aaron Harang is one obvious Plan B for Colletti, who met with the right-hander’s agent Wednesday. Colletti nearly traded for Harang two years ago. — Ken Gurnick
After meeting with the agent for free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said he continues to pursue the best starting pitchers on the market, as well as a right-handed reliever to share the late-inning load with Jordan Walden. Mark Buehrle and Hiroki Kuroda also are reportedly on the Angels’ list, along with relievers Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps, Octavio Dotel and Todd Coffey. — Ken Gurnick
Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said the club has serious interest in free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who considered signing with the Diamondbacks four years ago before opting for the Dodgers. Towers also said the club will be more aggressive scouting the Latin America market, but not aggressive enough to be in the bidding for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. — Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers continued their aggressive roster makeover Tuesday by signing free agent second baseman Mark Ellis and veteran catcher Matt Treanor to back up starter A.J. Ellis, but general manager Ned Colletti said the 2012 payroll will be reduced from the $110 million in 2011 and there’s no room in it for a big bat like Prince Fielder. He said he’s not even sure he’ll be able to re-sign pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who earned $12 million this year. Other free agent starters on the club radar are Chris Capuano, Jeff Francis and Aaron Harang. — Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers’ search for a veteran catcher apparently has turned to Matt Treanor, who split time between Kansas City and Texas in 2011, according to a baseball source. The Dodgers are looking for a replacement for Rod Barajas, who left last week for a $4 million deal with Pittsburgh. The Dodgers had inquired about free agent Ryan Doumit, but never made an offer after hearing his asking price. — Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers are closing in on a two-year, $8.75 million deal with free-agent infielder Mark Ellis to be their starting second baseman, according to a baseball source. The 34-year-old Ellis split last year between Oakland and Colorado, hitting .248 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. He would essentially take the place of Jamey Carroll, who signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Minnesota to be their starting shortstop. — Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers and outfielder Matt Kemp have reached a tentative agreement on an eight-year, $160 million contract extension, pending passing of a physical exam, according to a baseball source. The deal could be announced as early as today. — Ken Gurnick