Andruw Jones, Dodgers Reach Preliminary Agreement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Andruw Jones is following Joe Torre to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Gold Glove center fielder and the Dodgers reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday night on a $36.2 million, two-year contract that gives him the fifth-highest average salary in the major leagues.

Jones, the former Atlanta star who has won 10 straight Gold Gloves, is coming off one of the worst offensive seasons of his career. But if he rebounds, he could give the Dodgers a desperately needed boost in the middle of the lineup. He must pass a physical for the deal to be completed, a person familiar with the negotiations said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

A five-time All-Star, Jones will receive a $12.2 million signing bonus, of which $5.1 million is payable next year, $2.1 million in 2009 and $5 million in 2010. He well get salaries of $9 million next year and $15 million in 2009, and also will receive a no-trade clause.

His agreement with the Dodgers was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on its Web site.

Scott Boras, his agent, wouldn't confirm the agreement but sounded as if a deal had fallen into place.

"Being on a competitive team was a very, very important part of his process," he said.

Jones hit .222 this season, his lowest average since he batted .217 in 106 at-bats as a rookie in 1996. His 26 home runs were his fewest since 1997. He drove in 94 runs for the Braves, but finished with a paltry .311 on-base percentage.

Had Jones finished with big numbers, he likely would have sought a longer-term agreement. Boras said there were really only two options when it came to length.

"Very, very long-term or very, very short term," he said. "Nothing in between."

Jones didn't consider a one-year contract.

"I wouldn't put a player in that position, mainly because (he) just went through that," Boras said. "That was never an option."

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

Jones is a .263 career hitter with 368 home runs and 1,117 RBIs. He was runner-up for the NL MVP award in 2005, when he had 51 homers and 128 RBIs. The following season he hit 41 home runs with a career-high 129 RBIs.

He made $13.5 million this year, the final season of a five-year contract. The Braves made no effort to re-sign him.

Jones' $18.1 million average salary trails only those of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million), Boston's Manny Ramirez ($20 million), the Yankees' Derek Jeter ($18.9 million), and the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano ($18.3 million).

Adding Jones was the first major move for Los Angeles since Torre replaced Grady Little as manager on Nov. 1. Jones will get a chance to work with Don Mattingly, who followed Torre to the Dodgers and became hitting coach.

Light-hitting Juan Pierre, who had been in center field, could switch to left - potentially reducing playing time for Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier.


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