Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports reports that Juan Pierre is close to signing with the Dodgers for $9M/year. This would be a discount to Drew’s $11M/year deal (which had three years remaining before he chose to
go back on his word opt out), but a heck of a lot more than Limited-Range Lofton’s $3.8M last year. Pierre's deal is reported to be long, potentially five years (which is sending a rock to the pit of my stomach as I write this).
As a sidebar, apparently one of the dominoes that would fall from this deal is Dave Roberts, who could then end up with the Giants. Reports had surfaced last week that the Giants had offered Pierre $30M for three years, so one would anticipate the Dodgers deal, if $9M/year, must be for a longer duration. Pierre earned $6M this year.
Pierre played in every game last year for the Cubs, and his numbers were .292 BA / .330 OBP / .388 SLG. All of these numbers were slightly below his career highs, as well as below Lofton's. He also swiped 58 bases (but was caught 20 times), had an Alex-Cora-like three home runs, and 40 RBI with 87 runs. Lofton's power numbers were the same, and he stole fewer bases but was also caught fewer times. All of Pierre's numbers are not outstanding (Pierre is known as a slap hitter, so this does nothing to solve our power bat hole), and on top of that he has a poor arm.
So given the comparable-to-worse offensive numbers, why sign Pierre for such a premium? I can only assume it's defense (Lofton's arm was not all that good either), as Pierre's range has to be better than Kenny's. Watching Lofton in center was like having a heart attack each time (particularly as he seemed to wait for hours to get a read on each ball). Chicago Cub fans didn't like Pierre because his numbers didn't merit leadoff hitter status--which hopefully would be avoided with LA given leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal.
Adding Pierre to the mix would give the Dodgers an outfield of Andre Ethier, Pierre, and Jason Repko, with Matt Kemp in the wings along with Jayson Werth (who asserts he will be back for 2007, but I'll believe it when I see it).
UPDATE: ESPN is now reporting (3.31pm PST) that it's a five-year $45M deal for Pierre, pending him passing a physical. Anybody know Jeff Gillooly's phone number? (Okay, maybe I'm not feeling that pessimistic about this, but five years is a long time. It's like, JD Drew length of time.)