The Dodgers cleared a spot for Rudy Seanez in the bullpen and all but sentenced prospect James Loney to more time in triple A Monday, trading reliever Elmer Dessens to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Brady Clark and $2.1 million.
The Dodgers owed Dessens $1.7 million this season, so they are on the hook to pay the same amount to Clark because he has a one-year, $3.8-million contract.
Clark, 33, gives the Dodgers a replacement for Jason Repko, whose torn left hamstring will sideline him for the season. Repko was the only right-handed-hitting outfielder set to make the team; the Dodgers want power-hitting prospect Matt Kemp to play every day at triple A.
“It gives us a very capable player who plays hard, plays all three outfield spots and is a baseball player,” said General Manager Ned Colletti said, who added that his scouts say Clark “does a lot of things major league average. He’s an average hitter.”
Dessens was 5-8 with two saves in 62 appearances for the Dodgers and Kansas City Royals last season. It was his second stint with the Dodgers and he’d carved out a role as a pitcher capable of going multiple innings and making an occasional start.
However, with former starters Chad Billingsley and Mark Hendrickson in the bullpen, the need for another long reliever gave way to a desire to keep Seanez, an experienced short reliever whose primary job will be to get through the seventh inning and get the ball to setup man Jonathan Broxton and closer Takashi Saito.
Clark batted .263 with four home runs in 138 games last season. His best year was 2005 when he batted .306 with 13 home runs in 599 at-bats.
“Juan Pierre will have some competition to be the first player to the park every day,” said third base coach Rich Donnelly, who was a Brewers coach from 2003 to 2005. “Brady is a hard worker. He plays hard too, and can beat a team in a lot of ways.”
The addition of Clark -- who will join the team Thursday in Los Angeles for the Freeway Series -- means that only one Dodgers roster spot remains open. Outfielder Larry Bigbie is the favorite to take it because he has had a strong spring and would become a free agent if he doesn’t make the team. First baseman-outfielder Loney, who has had an equally strong spring, could be sent to triple A because he has options. Also, the Dodgers would like to see him hit with more power and become proficient in the outfield.
Bigbie can ask the Dodgers for a release beginning Thursday if they haven’t told him he is on the major league roster. The Dodgers could then assure him he will make the team or grant him his release.
“This [trade] doesn’t change anything for me,” Bigbie said. “I figured they would keep someone right-handed or get someone. It doesn’t change the spring I’ve had.”
Kemp seemed more affected than Bigbie by the addition of Clark. He acknowledged it probably meant he’ll begin the season in triple A and said, “I really don’t have too much to say about it.”
Seanez, who stands to benefit from Dessens’ leaving, wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“I’m still going full-steam ahead until the day they tell me I’m on the team,” he said.