Tracy helped L.A. return to postseason play

Updated: November 24, 2004, 10:49 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Jim Tracy agreed Wednesday to a two-year contract with Los Angeles following negotiations that took longer than expected.

After Tracy guided the Dodgers to their first playoff berth since 1996, general manager Paul DePodesta said he hoped an agreement would be in place before baseball's general manager meetings began Nov. 9.

"Regardless of how long it takes, the most important thing is you end up with something that both sides can live with," Tracy said Wednesday during a conference call. "I think that's where we got to. However long it takes to get it done, so be it.

"I didn't really feel like it was ever going to be a situation where I wouldn't be manager of the Dodgers. To me, it's now behind us and I'm looking forward to the job in front of us and the task at hand."

Tracy said he was satisfied with the agreement, adding that agent Alan Hendricks felt good about the headway the parties made in the past few days.

"They moved a little bit," Tracy said. "They moved far enough for me to feel like this is where I want to be, this is where I should be at this time in my managerial career. Everyone is happy on both ends. I was very confident we would find a middle ground that both sides could live with."

Tracy said the length of the contract was never an issue. His previous deal expired at the end of October, and the Dodgers had been the only major league team without a manager under contract.

"It never got contentious or anything like that," DePodesta said. "It really ended up just being a normal course of negotiation. Jim wanted to be here, we wanted to have him back. We all just felt like it was a matter of time. No one felt like there was a sense of urgency."

DePodesta said he told Tracy in August he wanted him to return as manager.

"I didn't want Jim worrying about it down the stretch," DePodesta said. "That was really the start of it all. Everybody expected that at some point we would get it done."

The Dodgers are 356-292 during Tracy's four years as manager, including 93-69 last season, their best record since 1991. They lost to NL champion St. Louis 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs -- the win was the first for Los Angeles in the postseason since the 1988 World Series.

"I feel like we've done some tremendous things over the last four years," Tracy said. "There's more to be done, there are more mountains to climb."

Tracy, who turns 49 next month, would like to see starting pitching and catching strengthened.

"Those are definitely points that have to be addressed," he said. "Another point that looms large is Adrian Beltre's situation and the possibility of him returning with us, which I certainly hope happens. If in fact he doesn't, that's another area we would potentially have to address."

Beltre, 25, hit .334 with a big league-leading 48 homers and 121 RBI. Beltre, who finished second behind Barry Bonds in the NL MVP voting, is a free agent.

"My expectation is it's going to take a while," DePodesta said of negotiations with Beltre. "For the most part, we've been in contract with free agents to make sure we're part of the game. We do have a couple offers out there, but not very many."

Tracy hopes his coaching staff returns intact but added that bench coach Jim Riggleman might not be back because of other opportunities.

"I know Riggs has some other options that he's considering," DePodesta said. "We would love to have him back."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press