Dodgers sign outfielder Anderson

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers, who have made an art form in recent years of taking advantage of a buyer's free-agent market, did so again Wednesday night, signing veteran outfielder and three-time All-Star Garret Anderson to a minor league contract.

The deal includes an invitation to major league camp, where Anderson, 37, will compete with fellow veterans Brian Giles and Doug Mientkiewicz for the left-handed pinch-hitting slot.

Anderson hit a serviceable .268 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs for the Atlanta Braves last season, the first of his 16 major league seasons with any club other than the Angels. But with spring training more than a week old, Anderson remained one of several free agents who had yet to find work, leaving him with basically no choice but to accept a deal with no guarantees.

If Anderson makes the club, he will earn a $550,000 base salary plus incentives. If he doesn't, he can opt out of the deal on Opening Day and become a free agent.

Anderson, a graduate of Kennedy High in Granada Hills, probably becomes the favorite to land the job. Giles admitted when he reported to camp last week his surgically repaired right knee might be too far gone to allow him to continue his career. And while Mientkiewicz hit .333 last season for the Dodgers, it was in extremely limited time -- he missed almost five months because of a dislocated right shoulder.

Anderson also has an advantage over Mientkiewicz in that Anderson is a pure outfielder who has logged at least 100 games in his career at each of the three positions, including 1,360 games in left field. Mientkiewicz has played a total of 13 career games in the outfield, all in right field, and is primarily a corner infielder. The Dodgers already have depth at the corners with utility infielders Ronnie Belliard, who can play first and third, and Jamey Carroll, who can play third.

However, unlike Mientkiewicz, Anderson has been a starter his entire career and is inexperienced coming off the bench. He has only 41 career plate appearances as a pinch hitter, albeit with a .297 average and a .341 on-base percentage.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.