Re-signing or replacing third baseman Juan Uribe figures to be at or near the top of the Dodgers’ to-do list at baseball’s winter meetings, which start Monday in Florida.
General Manager Ned Colletti said the Dodgers have already made multiple contract offers to the once-downtrodden Uribe, who suddenly has leverage.
That Uribe would find himself in this position would have been unthinkable a year ago, as he was coming off consecutive seasons in which he hit a combined .199. But a bounce-back 2013 season, coupled with a shortage of out-of-contract players at his position, have arguably made him the top third baseman on the free-agent market.
Uribe is believed to be asking for another three-year contract. The Dodgers have something shorter in mind.
Uribe batted .278 with 12 home runs and 50 runs batted in this season. He drew praise for defensive play and positive influence in the clubhouse. However, he turns 35 in March.
If the Dodgers fail to re-sign Uribe, they could move Hanley Ramirez to third base and pursue a shortstop instead.
The Dodgers could also be in need of a second baseman, should they decide Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero isn’t ready for the major leagues. Guerrero has been limited to handful of games in the Dominican winter league, which has presented the Dodgers with an obstacle in evaluating him.
The Dodgers remain in contact with free agent Mark Ellis.
Colletti is also intent on adding pieces to the bullpen. Although the Dodgers signed Brian Wilson last week, they remain in search of left- and right-handed late-inning options. Colletti said he would also like to add a long reliever.
The Dodgers would like to re-sign left-hander J.P. Howell, who told The Times last month that he is looking for a three-year deal.
The list of free-agent relievers who could be open to one-year contracts includes Jose Veras, Chris Perez, John Axford, Mitchell Boggs and Jesse Crain.