It’s been a hectic 24 hours or so for the Dodgers, who have signed deals with four more players, outfielder Reed Johnson, right-handed pitcher Ramon Ortiz, right-handed pitcher Jeff Weaver, and utilityman Alfredo Amezaga.
Although Johnson’s is the only deal of the four that is not a Minor League contract with an invite to big league camp, the arrival of the outfielder will certainly have a ripple effect throughout the organization, with the biggest ripple impacting Jason Repko. On January 10 Repko, who batted .277 with 16 homers and 47 RBI with the Isotopes before getting a September call-up to L.A., avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal worth $500,000. Now, Johnson enters Spring Training as the prohibitive favorite to be the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder, a job that was Repko’s not even a month ago. Repko is out of options, which means if the Dodgers want to hang on to him and send him back to Albuquerque, they would have to designate him for assignment and he would then have to clear wavers before accepting his assignment to the ‘Topes. The Dodgers could also try and trade Repko. Either way, Repko’s is a name worth watching as Spring Training begins.
Meanwhile, it’s deja vu all over again for Weaver, who enters Spring Training with a minor league contract for the second straight year. In 2009, the right-hander broke camp with the Isotopes and made five appearances for Albuquerque before he joined the Dodgers and was a pivotal piece both in the rotation and the bullpen for Los Angeles. In 28 games in L.A., (seven starts), Weaver went 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA but now will have to earn a spot in Spring Training once again.
Veteran right-hander Ortiz spent last season pitching out of the bullpen and rotation for Fresno, Triple-A affiliate of the Giants. In 35 games (16 starts), Ortiz went 5-6 with a 3.05 ERA and 114 strikeouts (against just 34 walks) in 129.2 innings. He started the year in the ‘pen, but finished the season as starter, where he was excellent, at one point winning four starts in a row. On August 4 he fired a three-hit shutout at Tacoma in a game the Grizzlies won 11-0. The right-hander’s last Big League stint came in 2007, when he split the year with the Twins and the Rockies.
Finally, Amezaga joins the Dodgers after spending the last four seasons with the Marlins. Last year, his season was shortened by microfracture surgery on his left knee in early July and has only been cleared to run since early January. If healthy, Amezaga is an extremely valuable asset in that he can play either of the two middle infield positions and centerfield.