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Dodgers Sign Padilla ... to Replace Kuroda?

In a move designed to counter St. Louis's acquisition of John Smoltz -- and possibly even Philadelphia's addition of Pedro Martinez -- the Dodgers signed veteran starting pitcher Vicente Padilla to a contract Wednesday. The deal is still contingent on Padilla passing a physical, a move that's far from a certainty, but seems to be a done deal, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.

The most interesting aspect of the move may be Los Angeles's rapid turnabout on Padilla. The team had said it wasn't interested in pursuing the right-hander last week, but then saw its pitching depth taking a hit -- literally -- when third starter Hideki Kuroda was drilled in the head with a fastball last weekend. There's no timetable on Kuroda's return, and it's starting to look more and more like the Dodgers could be preparing to play out the rest of 2009 without the Japanese workhorse.

That's precisely what makes Padilla an attractive, low risk-high reward signing (the Rangers are on the hook for the remainder of Padilla's $12 million salary for 2009) for L.A. He'll start at AAA Albuquerque this weekend, but the Dodgers may need him up at Chavez Ravine asap. Chad Billingsley recently returned from a lingering hamstring injury, but given his youth and inexperience it's hard to feel comfortable that he'll be completely injury free for the rest of the season, now that the innings are starting to pile up. Add to that the lingering questions about Kuroda's ability to return, and the Dodgers desperately need a quality starter to emerge out of thin air (or not so thin, in Padilla's case).

Could Padilla be that quality starter? Maybe. Joe Torre and the Dodgers better hope so, or that 3 1/2-game lead over the Rockies will get smaller and smaller ...

By Cameron Smith  |  August 20, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Dodgers , Rangers  | Tags: Dodgers, Rangers, Vicente Padilla, pitchers, waiver wire  
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