By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- With Eric Gagne returning from elbow surgery and eligible for free agency at the end of 2006, the Dodgers Saturday shored up their bullpen for the near-term (and maybe longer) by acquiring All-Star closer Danys Baez and former All-Star middle reliever Lance Carter from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for young pitchers Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany.
The 28-year-old Baez, a Cuban-born right-hander, saved 41 games for Tampa Bay in 2005, fifth in the American League, and has 102 saves in four seasons. He started his career with Cleveland, was released after the 2003 season and signed with Tampa Bay.
Baez is under contract for 2006 with a $4 million salary and is eligible for free agency after the 2006 season. The Dodgers are paying Gagne $10 million this year and the club has a 2007 option for $12 million, but Gagne can void the option, receive a $1 million buyout and also declare free agency.
The 31-year-old Carter, an All-Star in 2003, threw 57 innings in 39 games with a 4.90 ERA in 2005. He is expected to pick up some of the innings lost by the departures of Duaner Sanchez and Giovanni Carrara. He underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction twice, in 1996 and 2000.
The 22-year-old Jackson, once the top prospect in the Dodgers farm system, has been a disappointment the past two seasons, plagued by a sore forearm in 2004 and continued inconsistency in 2005.
Tiffany, 22 later this month, is the first top prospect general manager Ned Colletti has traded during his extreme makeover of the Dodgers' roster. Tiffany, a left-hander, was taken in the second round of the 2003 draft. But some in the organization believe he had been passed by 20-year-old left-hander Scott Elbert, taken in the first round of the 2004 draft.