Big names not on Dodgers' agenda

Big names not on Dodgers' agenda

Big names not on Dodgers' agenda
DALLAS -- General manager Ned Colletti said he's using a two-stage approach in refurbishing the Dodgers roster for the 2012 season:

There's the bankruptcy stage, and the post-bankruptcy stage.

"This year, because of what lies ahead with ownership ... I'm building the club now to compete, to keep us in the running, and come July we might have a situation to do something else," he said Monday.

Because of the club's bankruptcy, Colletti is working with a 2012 payroll cut of about $20 million from 2011, to less than $90 million. As a result, he's been paying up for supplemental players -- Juan Rivera, Chris Capuano, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Matt Treanor -- while stuck on the sidelines for big names like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

"Considering where the payroll is, I think we're in a good spot," he said of the current roster.

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Through a settlement between owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball, the club and its media rights are expected to be put up for sale soon -- unless delayed by pending lawsuits between the Dodgers and FOX.

Presumably, a new owner would have the wherewithal to provide Colletti with the financial resources to make expensive midseason acquisitions if the Dodgers are in the race.

He said he was not given the authority to make a run at Fielder or Pujols, even though the Dodgers rewarded Matt Kemp with a $160 million contract. That contract, as well as virtually all others Colletti has given this winter, is backloaded to minimize 2012 salaries.

"I know what the payroll is and I don't think anybody of that stature would fit into it," he said of this winter's top-tier free agents. "Any backloading we've done is not a large percentage of what our future payrolls will be. It won't weigh down the payrolls."

Colletti confirmed that he mentioned to Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and his representatives that "if there was interest" in a multiyear deal, the club would talk about it. Kershaw is eligible for arbitration for the first time and his salary could jump from $500,000 to $8 million.

"That's the stage that that's at," he said. "We haven't sat down and started to negotiate a deal. I have no idea what their financial interest is. All they said was a snappy 'OK.'"

Colletti said he hasn't made a similar suggestion to Andre Ethier, who will be a free agent after 2012. But he also said he hasn't considered trading Ethier "right now," nor have there been inquiries from other clubs for the right fielder, who is recovering from knee surgery.

Along with the addition of Hairston and the possible signing of starting pitcher Aaron Harang, Colletti said he'd like to add a veteran reliever. He said he continues talking to Mike MacDougal, who pitched in 69 games for the Dodgers, and he downplayed the viability of counting on Ronald Belisario's return to fill that role.

Belisario remains on the restricted list after two seasons of visa and drug problems, but he has told the club he plans to return this spring.

"If Ronald Belisario is in camp, he'll have a chance to compete for a bullpen spot," said Colletti. "I'll worry or contemplate his situation when I see him. Until then, I'm not thinking about him, or contemplating the possibility."

In anticipation of Hairston's signing, the Dodgers tried to outright outfielder Jamie Hoffmann to Triple-A, but he was claimed off waivers by division rival Colorado. The 27-year-old Hoffmann has spent most of the last three seasons at Triple-A. He had brief callups of 14 games in 2009 and two games in 2011. He has a .290 Minor League career batting average.

And although the rest of manager Don Mattingly's coaching staff will return intact for 2012, bullpen catcher Mike Borzello has left the organization. Borzello served the Dodgers for four years, coming over with Joe Torre from the Yankees, where he was bullpen catcher and batting-practice pitcher for 12 years. Rob Flippo, who just completed his 10th season as bullpen catcher, will return for 2012.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.