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News » O's have tough choices; Dodgers primed to pounce

O's have tough choices; Dodgers primed to pounce

O's have tough choices; Dodgers primed to pounce
The imminent signing of right fielder Nick Markakis to a six-year contract is terrific news for the Orioles; Markakis, 25, will be the foundation of a youth movement that could help the franchise recover from 11 straight losing seasons.

With or without Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers are in an unusually flexible position. Their payroll is in the low $70 million range, according to internal projections, even when including the yet-to-be-determined salaries of the team's four arbitration-eligible players — pitcher Jonathon Broxton, catcher Russell Martin and outfielders Andre Ethier and Jason Repko.

The signing of Ramirez would add between $20 million and $25 million. The team also is mining free agency for another starting pitcher and reliever, which could cost about $10 million.

Even then, the Dodgers would be below their final 2008 payroll of $126 million — a figure that did not include Ramirez, third baseman Casey Blake and pitcher Greg Maddux, whose previous teams paid almost all of their salaries.

If the Dodgers fail to sign Ramirez, they could turn to a more inexpensive free agent such as Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu. Or, they could simply start the season with an outfield of Ethier, Matt Kemp and Juan Pierre.

Like many teams, the Dodgers believe that trade bargains will emerge if the economic crisis leads to declining attendance and financially strapped teams need to dump payroll.

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Added: January 20, 2009

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