- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have placed Jason Repko on unconditional-release waivers, a move that effectively ends their relationship with the longtime outfield prospect who seemed to have fallen off the organizational radar in recent years. It also means Repko will receive only $125,000 of what would have been a guaranteed $500,000 because players on one-year contracts who were released by Wednesday are owed only a 45-day share of their salaries.
The move was made after Repko cleared regular waivers without being claimed by another club, a strong indication he will pass through release waivers as well. Once that happens, he will be free to sign with any team that is interested, although he acknowledged the best he can hope for is probably a minor league contract that will pay him far less than he would have received if the Dodgers had kept him.
"I'm pretty sure I'll start somewhere in Triple A, but hopefully it will be with a team that has more of an opportunity for me,'' Repko said. "All I can do is play and perform and hopefully use this fresh start to boost up my career again.''
There is a remote chance the Dodgers could re-sign Repko to a minor league deal. But given his current standing in the organization, it is difficult to imagine Repko would accept such a deal unless there were no other offers from any other team.
The move clears another spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster, which now has 36 players. Sometime between now and Sunday, when a 25-man roster must be submitted to Major League Baseball, the Dodgers are expected to purchase the contracts of four non-roster invitees: pitchers Ramon Ortiz and Jeff Weaver, outfielder Garret Anderson and either pitcher Russ Ortiz or infielder Nick Green.
While it wasn't a surprise Repko was waived, the fact he was given unconditional-release waivers was. Although he still had a minor league option, Repko wasn't going to make the team, and optioning him wouldn't have opened a 40-man spot. However, if he had been placed on simple waivers and passed through without another team claiming him, the Dodgers could have then outrighted him to Triple-A Albuquerque, clearing a 40-man spot.
But it had become fairly clear in recent years that Repko, a first-round sandwich pick by the Dodgers in 1999, was no longer a major part of the team's plans. As recently as a year ago, his agent, Dan Lozano, had asked the Dodgers to try to trade his client. The Dodgers tried to fulfill the request, but weren't able to find any takers.
A few minutes before the move was announced to the media, Repko talked about the odd position of entering his 12th season with the organization without ever gaining anything close to a foothold in the majors.
Repko had piecemealed together enough big-league service time to have been eligible for arbitration each of the last three winters and make $987,000 over the past two seasons, when he had 23 major league at-bats.
"It's obviously tough,'' Repko said. "When you play professional baseball, your goal is not to be a Triple-A baseball player. You want to be in the big leagues, and that has been my goal my whole life. The last couple of years, being an insurance policy for the team in case somebody goes down, is tough. You never know where you might have been if you were with a team that you matched up with better or that would have used you in a different way.
"But at the same time, I have to say I'm very thankful for the fact I'm even playing baseball. I tore my hamstring [in 2007], tore the tendon off the bone, and my career could easily have been over at that point. So I'm happy to still be playing baseball.''
Now, not even that much is guaranteed.
The Dodgers released left-hander Eric Stults, paving the way for him to join the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan's Central League.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
13hAndrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews