James Loney could face criminal charges for his involvement in a multi-car accident on the 101 Freeway last month, but the Dodgers still tendered him a contract Monday night for the 2012 season.
“He told me what had transpired,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “I trust him and I believe him.”
Loney, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, has assured the Dodgers the accident wasn’t caused by drugs or alcohol. The California Highway Patrol said officers extracted a blood sample to test for drugs and alcohol but that test results were not yet available.
Loney was one of three arbitration-eligible players to be tendered contracts for next season. Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier were the others.
Kershaw, who was paid $500,000 last season, could receive about $8 million in the arbitration process. Ethier should get a raise from his 2011 salary of $9.25 million.
The Dodgers didn’t tender a contract to left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who was hindered last season by lingering problems with his elbow and an anxiety disorder. The former All-Star setup man is now a free agent. Colletti said he is still interested in re-signing him.
Defensive wizard Tony Gwynn Jr. might have avoided the same fate by agreeing to a two-year, $2-million contract. Gwynn, who was non-tendered by the San Diego Padres last off-season, signed at a below-market rate in exchange for job security.
“When they came with a two-year deal, my ears immediately perked up,” Gwynn said.
The Dodgers’ projected fourth outfielder, Gwynn will be paid $850,000 next season, which is probably about $200,000 less than he could have received in the arbitration process. The second year of the contract is for $1.15 million.
Gwynn figures to be the last position player signed by the Dodgers to a major league contract this winter. Gwynn is expected to be part of a bench that will include catcher Matt Treanor, outfielder Jerry Sands, and infielders Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adam Kennedy.
The Dodgers are still in the market for a middle reliever and remain in talks with Mike MacDougal.