Dodgers About to Sign Marcus Thames

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The Dodgers' search for a power bat has them on the verge of signing free-agent outfielder Marcus Thames, but veterans Eric Chavez and Gabe Kapler are also in the mix, according to baseball sources.

The club declined to confirm that a signing of Thames was close.

The Dodgers, however, have been looking at Thames because of his right-handed power. Although his defense is considered shaky, he is viewed as a possible platoon-mate with left-handed-hitting Jay Gibbons in left field.

Management, however, also is considering an alternative outfield alignment that focuses on defense with Matt Kemp moving from center field to right, Andre Ethier moving from right field to left and Tony Gwynn starting in center field, if Gwynn shows enough offense in Spring Training. He hit only .204 last year.

Thames, 33, is coming off a 2010 season with the Yankees in which he hit 12 homers in 212 at-bats with a career-high .288 batting average. He hit a career-high 26 homers for Detroit in 2006.

The left-handed-hitting Chavez has been on the Dodgers' radar since the Winter Meetings, but there is concern about his health. Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove third baseman, is 33 and coming off four years of injuries, primarily to his shoulder and back. He hasn't played more than 90 games in a season since 2006. The club plans to work him out this month.

Chavez has spent all 12 seasons of his Major League career with Oakland, having just finished up a six-year, $63 million contract. Back in the day, he was a legitimate run producer, with four seasons of 100-plus RBIs and four seasons of at least 29 home runs to go with a .267 lifetime average.

If healthy, Chavez could share third base, facilitate the shift to left field of Casey Blake or be a primary pinch-hitter and possible backup corner infielder, although he has played only two games at first base.

The right-handed-hitting Kapler, 35, was a budding star a decade ago, but he hasn't reached double-digits in home runs since 2001. He played in 59 games for Tampa Bay last year with two homers and a .210 average. ... mp;c_id=la

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