Dodger news never sleeps, often when you don't see it coming. Shortly after midnight last night, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com broke the news via Twitter that Brian Giles had signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers, making him the 25th non-roster invitee to big league camp at spring training. With the signing of Reed Johnson earlier this week, it seemed like the pursuit of Giles was over. But here he is. Giles will make $550,000 if he makes the club, with up to $200,000 in incentives:
- $25,000 for 150 PA
- $25,000 for 200 PA
- $50,000 for 250 PA
- $50,000 for 300 PA
- $50,000 for 350 PA
Mike of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has an interesting take, noting the Dodgers may have been four years too late in signing Giles. Sure enough, general manager Ned Colletti's courting of Giles before the 2006 season made an impression. "Brian felt it was a good opportunity to contribute on a playoff-contending team," said Joe Bick, the agent for Giles, "and he's comfortable with Ned after getting to know him during his free agency four years ago."
Giles, who turned 39 on January 20, had microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007 (an operation that fellow non-roster invitee Alfredo Amezaga underwent on his left knee last season), and was hampered by arthritis in that knee last year, limiting him to a .191/.277/.271 season which ended for him on June 18. Giles is hopeful his knee will allow him to rebound this year, as he has not experienced any setbacks in his offseason conditioning, but he won't really know until spring training how it will respond to the daily grind. Bick noted Giles was willing to sign a minor league deal to share the risk:
Brian wanted to sign a minor league contract, wherever he signed, so as not to put any team at risk until he knows for certain how his knee will respond this spring. If all works out as we hope, all well and good. If his knee doesn't respond as we hope, then he'll be the first to let people know he can't do it; they won't have to tell him....If he's incapable physically of playing the game to his standards, he'll willingly walk away.
If Giles isn't on the roster by April 4, he can ask for his release. Giles has worn uniform number 24 since joining the Pirates in 1999, but that number is retired here in Dodgertown, in honor of Walt Alston. Giles wore number 22 from 1996-98 with Cleveland. Bick said there has been no discussion yet regarding uniform number.
If anything, this transaction is a testament to the information age. Ten days ago, a commenter named Ryan Francis on Dodger Thoughts (scroll down to 3:32pm) said he, while at the "Select-A-Seat" event for season ticket holders, saw Giles working out and running sprints in the outfield. Bick confirmed that Giles was examined by the Dodgers' medical staff on that day as well. Not so long ago, we would learn of a transaction like this in the notes section of the newspaper, or maybe even in the fine print of the transactions section buried deep in the sports section. Now, not only do we have beat reporters delivering news of a minor league transaction after midnight, we have the full details of the deal by the next morning. This is a great time to be a fan.