Ausmus close to signing with Dodgers

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

Seeking a veteran catcher to back up Russell Martin, the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday reached an agreement with free agent Brad Ausmus on a one-year, $1 million contract, according to a source close to those negotiations.

The Dodgers outbid the San Diego Padres, who began courting Ausmus months ago.

In the past two seasons, Martin started more games, played more games and played more innings at catcher than anyone else in baseball. Most observers consider that the primary reason Martin's offensive numbers declined last season, though he was an All Star for the second year in a row.

Ausmus, who will be 40 in April, played the past eight seasons for the Houston Astros. His playing time declined last season; Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles shared much of the catching duties.

Though he's not much of an offensive threat, Ausmus is very good at handling a pitching staff, an area where the Dodgers would like to see Martin get better.

Seemingly minutes after the Dodgers signed Ausmus, the Padres responded by inking Henry Blanco to a one-year, $750,000 deal to back up">Nick Hundley.

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