Dodgers ink Schmidt to three-year, $47M contract
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Dodgers, who lost three players to free agency on Tuesday, quickly reloaded in a big way.
It's tough to call any deal that calls for a player to earn a salary of over $15 million a year a bargain, but the Dodgers' three-year, $47 million deal with Jason Schmidt is one of the better deals of this offseason.
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The parties agreed to the deal Wednesday, and it was made official Friday after Schmidt passed a physical.
Schmidt will receive $15.5 million next year, $16 million in 2008 and $15.5 million in 2009, with some of the money to be structured as part of a signing bonus.
The team has been in the market for a starting pitcher, especially after losing Greg Maddux to the Padres on Tuesday.
"Jason is a top-of-the-rotation starter who can dominate a game as well as any pitcher in the major leagues," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. "He's a proven winner and that's something that's very hard to find."
Colletti previously worked as a front-office executive while Schmidt was pitching for the Giants.
Schmidt's $10 million option for 2006 was exercised by the Giants, but they knew they might lose him as a free agent this offseason. The 33-year-old right-hander seemed ready for a change of scenery from San Francisco, which has endured two straight losing seasons and three in a row out of the playoffs.
Jason Schmidt didn't really become an ace until he joined the Giants:
|Categories||Before Giants||With Giants|
|K Per 9||6.8||9.0|
Some scouts seemed more interested in Schmidt this season than Oakland's Barry Zito, who is expected to leave the A's and sign with a big-spending team.
Schmidt was the Giants' lone All-Star this season and went 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA. In Los Angeles, he'll join a rotation that includes right-hander Derek Lowe (16-8, 3.63), All-Star Game starter Brad Penny (16-9, 4.33), youngster Chad Billingsley (7-4, 3.80) and newcomer Randy Wolf, a 2003 All-Star who had major elbow surgery in July 2005.
The Dodgers finished fourth in the NL with a 4.23 ERA last season. They won the wild card before getting swept by the Mets in the first round of the playoffs.
Schmidt spent the past 5½ seasons with the Giants and has also pitched for Atlanta and Pittsburgh. He was the only one of seven remaining free agents offered arbitration by the Giants last Friday, but San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean was doubtful that Schmidt would accept.
"It probably had sailed," Sabean said. "He got his payday. It just wasn't going to be with us."
Schmidt was determined to explore his options this winter -- though his preference was to remain on the West Coast -- knowing he could be signing the final contract of his career.
An assistant GM for the Giants before taking the Dodgers job, Colletti's ties to Schmidt apparently swayed the pitcher's decision to come to Los Angeles. Schmidt also pitched for current Dodgers manager Grady Little, at Triple-A Richmond in 1995 when he had an 8-6 record and 2.25 ERA.
Schmidt has a 127-90 career record and 3.91 ERA during 12 major-league seasons. He previously pitched for Atlanta and Pittsburgh and was an All-Star in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
His 2.34 ERA in 2003 was the lowest in the league, and he finished second to Eric Gagne in the Cy Young voting. He was 78-37 with a 3.36 ERA since joining San Francisco in 2001, and his .678 winning percentage is the best in Giants history.
Schmidt has averaged 14 wins with a 3.45 ERA and more than 190 innings over the past six seasons. He is 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA in five playoff starts.
He pitched 213 1/3 innings last season, the third time in four years he went over the 200-inning mark.
On June 6, Schmidt struck out a career-high 16 in a 2-1 win over the Marlins. He matched the 102-year-old franchise record for strikeouts set by Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson on Oct. 3, 1904, against the Cardinals.
The NL pitcher of the month for May after going 4-0 with a 1.17 ERA, Schmidt also broke the San Francisco record of 15 strikeouts accomplished by Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1966.
Schmidt signed a four-year contract before the 2002 season that included the $10 million club option for last season.
Schmidt said he received a phone call from a San Francisco teammate.
"Barry [Bonds] just called me. He's like, 'You're leaving me? I can't believe you're leaving me.' I told him, 'I have to.' We had fun with it," Schmidt said. "We got to be pretty good friends while I was in San Francisco."
How will he pitch Bonds?
"Very carefully, of course," Schmidt said.
Colletti still may attempt to add a power hitter this winter by dealing a starting pitcher.
Information from ESPN's Steve Phillips, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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