Dodgers reach deal with Kuo, avoid arbitration

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From MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick comes word that the Dodgers avoided arbitration Wednesday with left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo by agreeing to a one-year, $2.725 million contract.  The deal also includes $700,000 in performance-based incentives.

Kuo requested a $3.075 million salary and was offered $2.55 million when arbitration figures were exchanged in mid-January.  It took only a handful of weeks for the two sides to find a common ground.

The southpaw finished with a gorgeous 1.20 ERA and 0.78 WHIP across 60 innings last season for the Dodgers, fanning 73 batters and walking only 18.  He also picked up 12 saves in 13 opportunities as a makeshift closer when primary ninth inning man Jonathan Broxton struggled down the stretch.

Kuo is expected to serve in a familiar setup role behind Broxton to kick off the 2011 season.

Dominic Smith dealing with a strained right quad

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Mets first baseman Dominic Smith is dealing with a strained right quad and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Smith, 22, did not play in the Mets’ first Grapefruit League game after showing up late. He played on Saturday, scoring two runs on a single and a hit-by-pitch in two plate appearances. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup.

The Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason, which makes him the front runner for the starting job at first base. Smith needs to have a strong spring showing to make the 25-man roster but so far, it hasn’t gone well.

Smith made his major league debut in August last year and ended up playing in 49 games. He struggled to a .198/.262/.395 slash line with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 183 plate appearances.