Brandon League inks $22.5M deal

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers began moving quickly to cross items off their winter checklist, agreeing to a three-year, $22.5 million contract extension with closer Brandon League on Tuesday.

General manager Ned Colletti said immediately after the season that keeping his bullpen together was among his top priorities. League, 29, was 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA and six saves for the Dodgers after they acquired him from the Seattle Mariners shortly before the trade deadline.

Once he took over as closer after Kenley Jansen was put on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat, he was particularly effective. After Sept. 1, League had a 0.55 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.

The deal also includes a $7.5 million option for 2016 that vests if League finishes 55 games in 2015.

Colletti said they re-signed League to serve as the team's closer though Jansen had a surgical procedure earlier this month to correct his atrial fibrillation and is expected to be at full strength at the start of spring training.

"That's the role," Colletti said. "That's where we'll start."

Colletti said he also has spoken to the agent for left-hander Randy Choate. Dodgers relievers collectively had a 3.23 ERA last season, fourth-best in the National League.

Colletti also would like to add another starting pitcher, in part because of the uncertainty about the health of Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. According to a source, the Dodgers identified right-hander James Shields as their No. 1 target. According to published reports, however, the Tampa Bay Rays are planning to pick up Shields' $10.25 million option for next season.

It's not clear whether the Dodgers will focus on trade talks with Tampa Bay or perhaps shift their attention to the top free-agent starter, Zack Greinke, who finished 2012 just down the freeway with the Los Angeles Angels.