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Dodgers reportedly ready to bring back Howell

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers and free-agent reliever J.P. Howell are closing in on a contract agreement for two years plus a vesting option, according to a baseball source.

Howell would be guaranteed $11.25 million, with a $6.25 million salary in 2016 if he makes 120 appearances the first two seasons.

The team would not confirm the agreement, which is believed to be contingent on the passing of a physical exam.

Howell was a durable and reliable complement to fellow left-hander Paco Rodriguez in 2013 after signing late in the offseason when the Dodgers realized that Scott Elbert wouldn't be healthy in time.

With the free-agent market thin on left-handers, Howell was in position to leverage a multi-year deal after earning $3.5 million in salary and bonuses while going 4-1 with a career-best 2.03 ERA. Boone Logan's three-year, $16.5 million deal with Colorado prompted the settlement. Lefties hit only .164 off Howell and he pitched multiple innings six times.

Howell rejoins closer Kenley Jansen, setup man Brian Wilson, and middle relievers Rodriguez, Brandon League and Chris Withrow. General manager Ned Colletti still is looking for another right-handed middle reliever and possibly a long reliever to round out the bullpen, plus a utility infielder. The Dodgers have been negotiating with reliever Jamey Wright and infielder Michael Young, among others.

The Dodgers did announce the signings of infielder Josh Bell and pitcher Sam Demel to Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League camp. Bell is a former fourth-round Draft pick that was traded to Baltimore for George Sherrill in 2009. He spent all last season at Triple-A, as did Demel.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers, J.P. Howell