The Dodgers have dispensed with the first of their nine pending arbitration cases, agreeing to terms with reserve outfielder Jason Repko on a one-year contract.
Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng confirmed the agreement, which is believed to carry the same $500,000 base salary Repko was paid last season.
The upcoming season figures to provide Repko, a supplemental first-round draft choice 11 years ago, with his best chance yet of finally reaching the major leagues and staying there. The Dodgers traded veteran Juan Pierre, their only backup outfielder, to the Chicago White Sox last month. For now, that leaves Repko to compete with the less-experienced Xavier Paul and two non-roster invitees, 30-something journeymen Prentice Redman and Michael Restovich, for one and possibly two backup spots.
Still, there are no guarantees. Although a gifted outfielder with tremendous speed and enough versatility to play all three spots, Repko does have a minor league option remaining.
Thus far, Repko's professional road has been a rocky one. To date, he has a grand total of 478 big league plate appearances, with just 27 of those coming over the past three seasons. After a promising rookie campaign in 2005, he was out for more than two months of 2006 with a severely sprained left ankle he suffered while trying to make a leaping catch at the center-field wall. He then missed all of 2007 after tearing his left hamstring, also while trying to make a catch, in a spring training game.
He spent most of the next two years in Triple-A, and his only big league action of 2009 was a September callup during which he went hitless in five at-bats.
Repko has a career average of .226 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs in 230 big league games. He has spent 11 seasons in the minors, including his past 4½ at Triple-A, and has a career minor league average of .273.
Repko, 29, was eligible for arbitration for the third consecutive winter despite his having amassed less than four years of big league service time. It is extremely rare for an arbitration-eligible player to receive no raise from his previous year's salary.
The Dodgers still have pending arbitration cases with pitchers Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill, catcher Russell Martin, first baseman James Loney and outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Teams and eligible players will file proposed salary figures on Jan. 18.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.