Gonzo moving down road to play for rival Dodgers

Updated: December 8, 2006, 8:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Luis Gonzalez
Gonzalez

LOS ANGELES -- Outfielder Luis Gonzalez officially joined the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, finalizing his contract a day after baseball's winter meetings ended.

Gonzalez will get $7.35 million for one year.

General manager Ned Colletti has been busy since the Dodgers made the playoffs this season as the NL wild-card team and got swept by the New York Mets.

Along with Gonzalez and free-agent pitcher Jason Schmidt, the Dodgers have added left-hander Randy Wolf, center fielder Juan Pierre and reserve catcher Mike Lieberthal. Colletti has worked to restock the roster after the departure of Greg Maddux, J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo and the probable parting with Eric Gagne.

The 39-year-old Gonzalez batted .271 with 15 homers and 73 RBI for Arizona last season, the ninth time in the past 10 years that he has appeared in 145 games or more. The five-time All-Star committed only one error in 150 games in left field.

"Luis is a proven offensive threat who will solidify the middle of the order," Colletti said. "He's a champion on and off the field and his veteran leadership is a huge part of what he brings to the table."

Gonzalez, who hits left-handed, has a .284 career average with 331 home runs, 1,324 RBI and a .368 on-base percentage in 17 seasons with Houston, the Chicago Cubs, Detroit and Arizona.

He was an NL All-Star for Arizona in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

Gonzalez has averaged 27 home runs and 94 RBI a year over the past nine seasons, and his 20 homers at Dodger Stadium rank second only to Barry Bonds among active players who have not played for Los Angeles.

Last April, he became only the 20th player to hit 300 home runs and 500 doubles in his career, joining a list of players that includes Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig and current Dodgers hitting coach Eddie Murray.

Gonzalez has appeared in the postseason three times, and his game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees gave Arizona the title.

The Dodgers had a busy day on Wednesday, reportedly agreeing to terms with premier right-hander Jason Schmidt and signing veteran catcher Mike Lieberthal to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

The 34-year-old Lieberthal will serve as a backup to Russell Martin, who hit .282 with 10 homers and 65 RBI as a rookie last season. He gets $1.15 million next year, and the Dodgers have $1.4 million option for 2008 with a $100,000 buyout.

Lieberthal, a two-time All Star and former Gold Glove Award winner, spent his first 13 major league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. He appeared in just 67 games due to injuries last season, hitting .273 with nine homers and 36 RBI.

"Mike is a veteran catcher who can help our club in a lot of different ways," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "As a former Gold Glove Award winner, he has a lot to offer Russell Martin and he'll be able to provide valuable leadership in the clubhouse. He's another local player who knows what it means to be a Dodger."

Lieberthal grew up in the Los Angeles area, graduating from Westlake Village High. Although his father, Dennis, was a scout for the San Francisco Giants, Lieberthal's family had season tickets for the Dodgers while he was growing up.

Lieberthal, who made his big-league debut at Dodger Stadium on June 30, 1994, has a .275 career average with 150 homers and 609 RBI.

Information from SportsTicker and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE