Gary Carter, an 11-time All-Star catcher, said Thursday he has been invited to spring training by the Dodgers and will accept that invitation if he receives no better offers.
Carter said the Dodgers, who are looking for a veteran to back up Mike Scioscia, recently offered him a contract that will take effect if he makes the team this spring. Sources say the contract offer is worth about $500,000, or half Carter’s salary last season with the San Francisco Giants.
“To be honest, I would like some incentives in that contract, not just for the money but just to show me that the Dodgers really believe in me,” said Carter, 36, who was not offered a contract by the Giants after hitting .254 with nine home runs and 27 runs batted in in 92 games.
Carter added, “But if I don’t get those incentives and I don’t get the guarantee from anyone else, I guess I would be willing to work something out.”
Last season Carter made $500,000 in incentives for games played. But sources say that Fred Claire, Dodger vice president, is unwilling to spend much more money on free agents after acquiring Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Gross and Brett Butler at a total cost of nearly $40 million.
Tom Lasorda, Dodger manager, values Carter so much that he has already spoken with him twice in hopes of convincing him to sign.
“And I agree with Tommy--to finally be able to play every day in front of my family and where I grew up, it would be a dream,” Carter said.
Scioscia’s only backup is Barry Lyons, who backed up Carter in four seasons with the New York Mets. Lyons became the Met starter early last year but injured his back and was released. He has a career average of .240 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs.
Carter, a graduate of Sunny Hills High in Fullerton, has played in 1,903 games, more than any National League catcher.
Carter has a .265 batting average in 16 seasons, with 313 homers and 1,170 RBIs. He is 31 hits short of 2,000.
One problem of Carter’s is his right knee, which has undergone four surgeries. He says the knee has been rehabilitated and feels “wonderful.”
Another concern is Carter’s defense. Last year he threw out only 21% of the 81 runners who attempted to steal against him. Rick Dempsey, last year’s backup catcher who was allowed to leave the team as a free agent, threw out 31% of the 48 runners attempting to steal.