December 16, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) After an itinerant major league career, Brandon McCarthy is grateful the Los Angeles Dodgers are giving him the chance to grow with a contender.

The Dodgers finalized a $48 million, four-year contract with McCarthy on Tuesday, designating reliever Brian Wilson for assignment to make room for the right-hander.

McCarthy eagerly agreed to a long-term deal with his favorite childhood team, seizing the chance to replace Dan Haren as the NL West champions' fourth starter alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

''There was nothing that didn't intrigue me about the Dodgers,'' McCarthy said. ''I grew up 10 miles from the stadium. The Dodgers were what I knew, who I looked up to as a kid.''

Before he graduated from high school in Colorado, the 31-year-old McCarthy lived in Pasadena, California, idolizing Orel Hershiser and looking forward to his family's handful of trips each season to Chavez Ravine. He remembers getting Hershiser's autograph at Disneyland as a high point of his youth.

And after bouncing around the majors to five teams in his first nine years, McCarthy was thrilled by the Dodgers' four-year commitment.

''It was a very big thing for me, because having that stop-start identity with each organization, it weighs on you,'' McCarthy said, adding that he wanted ''to have a chance to actually make a name for myself and actually leave an identity and a long-term reputation with a team.''

McCarthy gets a $6 million signing bonus with half payable by Jan. 15 and the rest by Feb. 15, and salaries of $11 million in 2015 and 2016, dropping to $10 million in 2017 and 2018. The Dodgers get some injury protection in the form of a conditional club option at $5 million if he spends 180 or more days on disabled list as a result of an injury to his pitching shoulder related to stress fracture or a reaction injury during 2015-18. The option price would increase to $8 million if the DL time is from 120-179 days from 2015-18.

In a prudent financial move by the free-spending Dodgers, McCarthy's contract includes no tweet escalators. The pitcher already has a fame outstripping his 52-65 career record thanks to the 148,000-odd followers of his popular Twitter account - and that of his equally hilarious wife, Amanda, who also was born and raised in Southern California.

If the 6-foot-7 McCarthy maintains the form he showed late last season with the New York Yankees, he'll fit in splendidly on Hollywood's favorite team.

McCarthy went 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts for the Yankees, who acquired him from Arizona on July 6. He started the season 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts for the Diamondbacks, who signed him before the 2013 season.

McCarthy has never won more than 10 games in a season, racking up a career 4.09 ERA during stints with the Chicago White Sox (2005-06), Texas (2007-09) and Oakland (2011-12).

But he thrived last season with the Yankees, adding a cutter to his repertoire and pitching more than 200 innings for the first time in his career. New Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi has faith in McCarthy after their time together in Oakland.

Although McCarthy has been to the disabled list 10 times in his career, he apparently has fully recovered after getting hit in the head by a line drive from the Angels' Erick Aybar in 2012. McCarthy's health remains his paramount concern, but he also looks forward to improving his game by joining one of baseball's most impressive rotations.

''Missing time, you lose that feel and ability in the middle of the season,'' McCarthy said. ''Last year I was able to gain as a pitcher instead of falling backwards. Having guys like Greinke there, having guys like Kershaw, having a whole new library of information you can tap into once you walk in those doors, I'm looking forward to that.''

To make room on their 40-man roster, the Dodgers finally gave up on Wilson, the heavily bearded reliever who revitalized his career with Los Angeles over the past two years.

Wilson went 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA in 61 appearances for the Dodgers last season, but the longtime Giants closer blew four of his five save opportunities and lost his job as a setup man for Kenley Jansen while developing a reputation for wild inconsistency. After two elbow ligament replacement surgeries, he has struggled to hit 90 mph with his fastball, but his strong finish to 2013 earned him a lucrative contract with a big player option for 2015.

If the deep-pocketed Dodgers release Wilson, they would be responsible for his $10 million salary. If he then signs a major league contract with another team, that team would pay him the $507,000 major league minimum salary, which would be offset.

President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman's new regime in Los Angeles has been awfully busy in its first month on the job. While trading Haren and Dee Gordon to Miami in a seven-player deal last week, the club also acquired veterans Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick while shipping Matt Kemp to San Diego.

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