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Tendering Saito a 'tough call' for LA

Tendering Saito a 'tough call' for LA

LAS VEGAS -- The Dodgers don't know how long they must wait for Rafael Furcal to decide if he'll return as shortstop, but they'll know by Friday if closer Takashi Saito will be back.

Unlike Furcal, who is a free agent, Saito is arbitration eligible, but only if the Dodgers tender him a contract by Friday's deadline. And even though he's the highest-rated reliever in the National League over the past two years, the club might effectively release Saito, who missed two months with an elbow injury.

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"It's a tough call on tendering," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said on Wednesday. "It's a stare-down right now."

Colletti confirmed the club has made Saito an offer, most likely at last year's salary or above (plus incentives). If the club suspected or knew the right-hander was still injured, presumably there would have been no offer. That makes the standoff appear to be as much about money as health, as Saito's arbitration value would likely be in the $3.5 million range.

Nonetheless, the veiled threat of a non-tender apparently has the negotiations at a standstill. Other possible Dodgers candidates for non-tenders are Yhency Brazoban, Scott Proctor, Jason Repko and Angel Berroa.

Berroa's case is unique in that he is coming off a multiyear deal in which Kansas City paid him $4.75 million last year. Rules prevent a team from cutting a salary by more than 20 percent, so the Dodgers would have an arbitration submittal number of at least $3.8 million, more than they'd want to pay Berroa.

"He's less of a stare-down," Colletti said.

As for Furcal, Colletti said he heard nothing new Wednesday but would contact the shortstop's agent before the Winter Meetings end Thursday. The other teams pursuing Furcal are Oakland, Kansas City and Toronto.

Colletti said the negotiation on Furcal "is a bit of a complicated one," an apparent reference to the fact the Dodgers aren't willing to guarantee Furcal a long-term deal because of his health history. Rather, they seek a shared-risk contract that would pay Furcal the equivalent of a long-term deal if he stays healthy, possibly through triggers that guarantee later years if he's healthy in earlier years.

"If he's willing, we'll figure something out," Colletti said. "If he doesn't have to or he's not willing to, he probably won't be here. If we have some reasonable assurances we've got somebody to play full time, if we can do that, the rest of the numbers will probably be what he's looking for."

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

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