Dodgers avoid arbitration with reliever Kuo

Dodgers avoid arbitration with reliever Kuo

Dodgers avoid arbitration with reliever Kuo
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo reached agreement Wednesday on a one-year, $2.725 million contract, with another $675,000 possible through bonuses.

Kuo is coming off a record-breaking All-Star season. He set a franchise mark and led all Major Leaguers with a 1.20 ERA and he inherited the closer's job when Jonathan Broxton wobbled. Kuo struck out 73 batters with 18 walks in 60 innings, while opponents hit just .139 off him.

Kuo converted his last 12 save opportunities, but he doesn't have typical closer stats and his brittle elbow prevents him from being projected as a reliable ninth-inning solution.

Nonetheless, $600,000 of the bonus money is for games finished, which would reward Kuo if he becomes the closer. The signing leaves the Dodgers with only one possible arbitration case -- first baseman James Loney, who is seeking $5.25 million. The club is offering $4.7 million.

Loney, who earned $3.1 million in 2010, is in line for a sizeable raise even though his power numbers are on the low end for his position. In 2010, his average and on-base percentage slid during a dramatic second-half slump, when he hit .211.

Since the inception of salary arbitration 35 years ago, the Dodgers are 14-6 in cases decided by a hearing and 6-1 in their last seven cases, dating to 1991. That includes the most recent wins over Joe Beimel in 2007 and Eric Gagne in 2004 by assistant general manager Kim Ng, who is in charge of the club's cases.

The last player to beat the Dodgers in a hearing was Terry Adams in 2001. The club's first arbitration case was in 1975, when Ron Cey was awarded a salary of $56,000 instead of the club's submission of $47,000.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.