Dodgers shift strategy in Nashville
Los Angeles drops out of bidding for top center fielders
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, having made unsuccessful runs at free-agent center fielders Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand, is shifting to more modest ways of improving his roster at the Winter Meetings.
Colletti was hoping to land one of the outfielders with a short-term deal, but said the demands of Jones and Rowand exceeded his appetite both in dollars and years. He never made offers and said the players would need to drop their demands for the Dodgers to be involved.
"Right now, we don't have anywhere else to go," Colletti said.
"I had the intention of making an offer," he said regarding Jones, until hearing what the 10-time Gold Glove winner sought. "It would have been foolish to do so."
Colletti, however, remains seriously in play for Japanese free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers and Mariners are believed to be the frontrunners for the 32-year-old right-hander, who would provide starting rotation depth with the dependability of Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza in question. Colletti confirmed he has made an offer.
"We're just waiting to see where they're at and what their thoughts are," he said of Kuroda. "They know we have sincere interest."
Ideally, Colletti wanted to land Kuroda and a premium outfielder, creating flexibility with which to package enough young players to acquire third baseman Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins. Chances of that happening are now remote, because any deal that would net Cabrera to fill the hole at third base would create too many other holes. The Marlins have their sights on three or four from a group of Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, Andy LaRoche and James Loney.
That means, as the roster currently exists, third base will be decided in a Spring Training competition between LaRoche and veteran Nomar Garciaparra.
"Whoever steps up," Colletti said.
Colletti said he has been assured by Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, that Garciaparra is willing to do what's needed, presumably even if that means accepting a bench role.
"I didn't have to say anything," Colletti said. "He told me Nomar just wants to know. When we know, if there's a change from a year ago, pass it on. But he's open-minded to help the club."
Colletti said the club has "internal options" for center field, citing Kemp and Juan Pierre. Although it has been widely speculated that Pierre would be moved to left field because of his vulnerable throwing arm, Colletti said that decision will be made by new manager Joe Torre.
Of the Dodgers' current free agents, Colletti said he still has interest in varying degrees in reliever Rudy Seanez, pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney and backup catcher Mike Lieberthal. He said he has not talked to David Wells, who pitched effectively for the Dodgers down the stretch. There is concern that a full season might be asking too much of Wells, who turns 45 in May.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.