Hot Stove Pre-Heating

It’s just the second week of November, but already there’s been some movement on the free agent front that impacts the Dodgers, and by extension, the Isotopes.  While it’s been widely reported that Los Angeles won’t make any significant Major League free agent moves until the team’s new ownership situation is sorted out (and there is even speculation around baseball that all teams are waiting to make moves until the newest CBA is signed), the Dodgers have already begun inking minor league free agents. 

First, the Pirates have signed catcher Rod Barajas to a one-year deal, which seems to suggest the Dodgers are prepared to move forward with A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz as their catching tandem. Obviously, this is great news for the pair of former Isotopes, particularly Ellis, who has bounced between Albuquerque and L.A. in each of the last three season. 

At the beginning of the month, the Dodgers released their list of minor league free agents, most of whom spent last season with the ‘Topes.  Now, there’s a chance that the players on this list of 23 will be re-signed by Los Angeles and could even return to Albuquerque, but they also have the option of signing with other organizations.  The list of minor league free agents is: 

Los Angeles Dodgers (23)
Roman Colon (AAA), Roy Corcoran (AAA), Tim Corcoran (AAA), Francisco Felix (AAA), John Housey (AAA), Jon Link (AAA), Joey Newby (AAA), Jesus Rodriguez (AA), Travis Schlichting (AAA), Oscar Villarreal (AAA)
LHP: Alberto Bastardo (AAA), Randy Keisler (AAA), David Pfeiffer (AAA)
C: Damaso Espino (AAA), Jessie Mier (Lo A)
1B: John Lindsey (AAA)
2B: Eugenio Velez (AAA)
3B: Corey Smith (AA)
SS: Christian Lara (Lo A), Ivan Ochoa (AAA), Wilberto Ortiz (Hi A)
OF: Brad Coon (AAA), Preston Mattingly (Lo A)

The biggest name for Isotopes fans on this list is that of first baseman John Lindsey, a fan-favorite in Albuquerque the last two years who played in just 75 games a year ago while battling hamstring and calf injuries.  Lindsey is currently playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. 

While it will be interesting to see where these players will wind up (again, many may end up right back in Albuquerque), the Dodgers have already signed three players, all of whom could wind up with the Isotopes in 2012. 

Salomon Manriquez (C) – Further indication that Federowicz in particular will have a good opportunity of making the Dodgers out of Spring Training (Ellis is out of options, so he must start the year in L.A., or he becomes a free agent) is the fact Los Angeles signed Manriquez, who split time last year between Double-A and Triple-A in the Mets organization.  Manriquez played the first month and a half in Triple-A Buffalo but spent most of the year at Double-A Binghamton before returning to the Bisons at the end of August.  He batted .254 with 13 doubles, five homers, and 27 RBI in 60 games with Binghamton and .321 with three doubles, a homer, and seven RBI in 27 games with Buffalo.  Most of all, Manriquez has the versatility the Dodgers crave, seeing plenty of action at first base as well as catcher. 

Will Savage (RHP) – The right-hander isn’t a new free agent, since he re-signed with the Dodgers after spending all of last year at Double-A Chattanooga where he dominated out of the Lookouts’ rotation.  In 25 games (23 starts) with Chattanooga, Savage was excellent, leading the Southern League in wins while going 12-6 with a 3.95 ERA  

Lance Zawadzki (SS) – Zawadzki spent all of last year with Omaha in the Royals organization, batting .233 with 13 doubles, six triples, eight homers, and 40 RBI in 91 games.  The switch-hitting infielder turned it on when it mattered most, batting .400 in the PCL playoffs and was the only Storm Chaser to rack up two hits in Omaha’s 8-3 loss to Columbus in the Triple-A National Championship Game at Isotopes Park in September.   

Spring Training is still three months away, so there’s a long way to go, but it’s always good for baseball fans when the Hot Stove starts to pre-heat.

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