Juan Uribe's future with Dodgers after this season is uncertain

Juan Uribe's future with Dodgers after this season is uncertain
Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe watches the flight of his double against the Rockies in the third inning of an exhibition game Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Juan Uribe is the Dodgers' starter at third base this season, no matter how he performs this spring. Beyond that, who knows?

Uribe again? Unlikely.


Hector Olivera? Corey Seager? Alex Guerrero?

Uribe's contract expires at the end of this season. So do the contracts of second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The Dodgers have decided to let the season play out, at least to some point, before even considering extensions for any of those infielders.

Among the reasons: the possibility that they sign Olivera. The Dodgers are one of several teams that have submitted a long-term contract offer to Olivera, a Cuban infielder who turns 30 next month.

They have no idea when Olivera might decide among suitors that include the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. In order to sign him, the Dodgers probably would have to hand Olivera their richest contract of the off-season, beyond the $48 million they guaranteed pitcher Brandon McCarthy. They have not offered $77 million, according to a person familiar with their thinking, despite a report to the contrary.

Also, since there is some uncertainty about the condition of his right elbow, any team that agrees to terms with Olivera would do so contingent on a physical examination that would be far from routine.

Olivera could be the Dodgers' long-term answer at third base, or at second base. Seager, 20, the Dodgers' top prospect, will play shortstop in the minor leagues this season, but his best position might turn out to be third base. Guerrero, 27, another Cuban import, has played well at third base and left field this spring, as the Dodgers evaluate whether he could be a utility player this season and an everyday player beyond then.

In theory, at least, the Dodgers could play Olivera at second base, Seager at shortstop and Guerrero at third base next season.

That limits Uribe, who turns 36 on Sunday, to simply hope he can stay with the Dodgers beyond this season.

"I feel like this is home," he said. "I like it here a lot. I feel comfortable here."

Uribe had three hits in his first 25 at-bats this spring, then three hits in three at-bats Saturday. His only extra-base hit this spring is a bloop double that landed just over the head of the first baseman.

"I'll be ready for the season," Uribe said. "I don't look at the numbers. I just have to be ready. Every at-bat is a good at-bat. Every swing is a good swing."

Uribe batted a career-best .311 last season, with a .440 slugging percentage. He is batting .214 this spring, with a .250 slugging percentage.

Manager Don Mattingly said Uribe would not lose his starting spot in spring training unless he was injured, in poor physical condition or appeared lost at the plate.

"Papi's at-bats have been OK," Mattingly said. "He's a typical veteran guy getting ready. He doesn't look any different to me. He knows when the bell rings. He'll be ready."


Andre Ethier watch

As the Dodgers continue efforts to trade Andre Ethier, the outfielder is doing what he can to attract interest from other teams. Ethier hit his first home run of the spring Saturday, and has five hits in his last nine at-bats, lifting his average to .303.

One major league executive described trade talks at this stage of the spring as "flirtatious," as teams assess in-house personnel before making trades. Joc Pederson has all but won the Dodgers' center field job, batting .472 with an .861 slugging percentage, but Mattingly rebuffed the suggestion that Ethier is hitting his way into consideration for playing time.

"He's been considered the whole time," Mattingly said. "He's been swinging the bat good."

Chris Heisey, who was acquired to be a reserve outfielder, is batting .074 and could be optioned to the minor leagues.