Agent: Pierre chooses Dodgers

Agent: Pierre chooses Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Whatever Plan A might have been or become, developments Monday clearly indicated that the Dodgers are moving full-speed ahead on Plan B.

They officially re-signed Nomar Garciaparra and may have a deal in place soon to add free-agent center fielder Juan Pierre. Agent Mark Peiper wrote in an e-mail that Pierre had chosen the Dodgers, but the terms had not been finalized. ESPN reported it to be five years and $45 million.

"It came down to a variety of factors," Peiper wrote. "He likes the players and really respects Grady [Little]. It's also a team that is going to win for several years. They have a good mix of veteran and young players and an owner that is committed to trying to win a World Series. Once you've won a championship like Juan has [with the Marlins], you want to do whatever you can to try to get back there."

Pierre would be the first major addition after the Dodgers lost J.D. Drew and kept Garciaparra, but the deal is not yet finalized, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said Monday.

"We don't have a deal yet," Colletti stressed when asked about Pierre.

Garciaparra, who moved to first base when he became a Dodger, said he's prepared to play any position (third base, second base?) as long as he plays it in a Dodgers uniform, a welcome attitude for management in the wake of Drew's sudden departure.

Meanwhile, acknowledging a dearth of available power hitters, the club apparently plans for Pierre to join Rafael Furcal at the top of a batting order that once again will rely on creativity over power.

"Our priority is to get as many good players as possible," said Colletti. "We sought a power hitter for the middle of the lineup. There were three on the market. Two are gone [Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez] and the third [Carlos Lee], based on conversations I've had, is on his way someplace.

"We had pitching, good defense and manufactured runs last year and, depending the way the pitching [free agents] goes, maybe you get enough pitching and move one for a hitter."

As for pitching, Colletti confirmed that former Giants starter Jason Schmidt is among his targets, but said former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds is not, even though Colletti is still looking for a power hitter.

A thin free-agent market made Colletti's initial strategy of landing one tough to start with, and it apparently went out the window when Drew blindsided the Dodgers by opting out of the final three years of his contract. Reacting to Drew's move, Colletti prevented a further offensive hemorrhage by re-signing the 33-year-old Garciaparra to a two-year, $18.5 million contract.

Garciaparra and Drew tied for the club lead with 20 home runs, while the team finished 13th in the league in that category. Colletti might have no choice but to be optimistic that the total will improve in 2007, even if he doesn't land a $138 million bat.

"We lost 20 home runs with Drew, but our people feel there could be more power from [Wilson] Betemit [who hit 18 overall and nine after his acquisition], more from [Andre] Ethier [11], maybe more from [Russell] Martin [10]," Colletti said.

"[Jeff] Kent played hurt and there's a chance he'll rebound [from 14 homers]. I think, while we were challenged power-wise, we did lead the league in hitting and didn't struggle to score runs. The market is what it is. You can't make guys come from nowhere. If you've got speed and pitching and defense to back up the pitching, you can win some games."

Pierre, 29, has a .303 career batting average over six-plus seasons, averaging 53 stolen bases a year. He began his career with three-plus seasons in Colorado, went to the Florida Marlins for three years and in 2006 played for the Cubs. He hit .292 in Chicago with a league-leading 201 hits, 58 stolen bases and 87 runs scored.

Defensively, although his throwing arm is considered below average, he did not commit an error. He was the toughest batter in the National League to strike out and second in the league in steals and triples (13). He also played in 162 games for the fourth consecutive season, which makes him an upgrade from the 39-year-old Lofton, who hit .301 with 32 steals and 79 runs scored in 129 games.

Pierre is known as a hard worker and positive clubhouse influence. He earned $5.75 million last year and was believed to be looking for a $10 annual salary. An acquisition of Pierre would indicate the club does not feel Matt Kemp is ready to play center field every day in the Major Leagues.

"Pierre gets on base an awful lot, he had 200 hits, steals bases, he's a great guy to have on the club, a great quality human being," said Colletti. "If we're able to come to terms, he would be great at the top of the lineup with Rafael."

Right behind them would be Garciaparra, although his defensive position is unclear.

"We talked about nine days ago, but I told him I couldn't tell him where he would be," Colletti said. "He's open-minded to it. We know he's amenable, he's athletic enough to play a lot of different spots and we'll see what the needs of the club are."

Colletti indicated there probably is room on the same roster for Garciaparra and top first-base prospect James Loney.

"Obviously, [Loney] is a first baseman, but he also can play some outfield and he may play both this year," Colletti said. "Guys get banged up. He has a great shot to make our club. He'll play first base more than a year ago and also some time in the outfield."

Loney, last year's Minor League batting champion, played six innings of the outfield for the Dodgers this year and has only a handful of games in the outfield in the Minor Leagues. He currently is playing first base for Licey in the Dominican Republic.

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