The overhaul of the Los Angeles Dodgers is nearly complete.
General manager Kevin Malone hopes to make one more significant move -- getting dominating free-agent pitcher Kevin Brown to sign.
Of course, he's not alone in that desire.
Hundley is coming off a most forgettable season, due to a lengthy recovery from reconstructive surgery on his throwing elbow and a switch to the outfield.
But he said he's 100 percent healthy now.
"Matter of fact, I had an MRI done yesterday," Hundley said Tuesday night. "The doctor said it looks great. I think taking most of last year off is helping me now. I have been throwing."
Hundley, who underwent elbow surgery at the end of the 1997 season, was on the disabled list until July and played in just 53 games last season, hitting only .161 with three homers and 12 RBI.
He struck out 55 times in 124 at-bats, but blamed a lot of his offensive problems on being used in left field, something he said he couldn't stand.
"Getting out of the outfield to back behind home plate is unbelievable," he said.
Hundley, who became expendable when the Mets signed catcher Mike Piazza/A> to a $91 million, seven-year contract in late October, made it clear he was happy to go elsewhere.
| Todd Hundley takes his bat to the West Coast. (AP) |
"This is an organization I would love to finish my career with," he said. "I've waived my right to demand a trade. ... That's how much confidence I have in this team. It's an ideal place for me to go."
Hundley, who will earn $5.2 million next season and $6 million in 2000, set a big-league record for homers by a catcher in 1996, hitting 41 to surpass Roy Campanella's 43-year-old standard. Hundley also hit .259 and drove in 112 runs that year.
Hampered by elbow problems in 1997, Hundley played in 132 games and hit .273 with 30 homers and 86 RBIs, thus becoming the first Mets player to hit 30 or more homers in consecutive seasons since Darryl Strawberry did so in 1987-88.
Hundley has a career average of .240 with 124 homers and 397 RBIs.
"We felt all along we needed to balance our lineup," Malone said. "We needed a power-hitting, run-producing left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup."
"Todd will be a leader in the clubhouse and on the field. He's a warrior, an intense competitor. We think this is a major acquisition, when you can get a middle of the lineup power-hitting hitter at a defensive position."
Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said Hundley probably will hit behind Gary Sheffield, batting fourth or fifth.
"We just got better," Johnson said. "(Hundley) gives our lineup a lot more flexibility. He's explosive. They're going to have to pitch to the guys in front of him."
Eric Young, a right-handed hitter, figures to lead off for the Dodgers, followed by switch-hitting outfielder Devon White, who signed a three-year, $12.4 million free agent contract last month.
The trade was the fourth between the Dodgers and Mets since last June, and the second during the off-season. The Mets sent reliever Mel Rojas to the Dodgers for third baseman Bobby Bonilla last month.
In this deal, the Dodgers also receive minor-league pitcher rnold Gooch, a 22-year-old right-hander obtained by the Mets in the Bret Saberhagen trade on July 31, 1995.
"We've got solid reports on Arnie," Malone said. "He's still learning how to pitch. We think he's got a chance to become a No. 4, No. 5 starter."
Johnson, 27, came to the Dodgers from the Florida Marlins along with Sheffield, Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and a minor-league pitcher for Piazza and third baseman Todd Zeile last May 15. The Marlins traded Piazza to the Mets a week later.
Johnson played in 133 games with the Marlins and Dodgers last season and hit just .218 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs. He was immediately traded by the Mets to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez, a deal that made sense due to Piazza's presence.
The 24-year-old Cedeno, a switch hitter long considered a top prospect, played in 105 games for the Dodgers last season and hit .242 with two homers and 17 RBIs.
As far as Brown is concerned, Malone said, "We'd like to add a Kevin Brown, that's no secret. We'll be aggressive and we'll be active in the pursuit of Kevin Brown. Hopefully, that will be a pitcher we can bring to the Dodgers. If not, we're still going to win."
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