Dodgers still seeking bat, reliever

Dodgers still seeking bat, reliever

DALLAS -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he met with a handful of clubs at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday looking for "an upgrade, a position player," but that he would listen if a club offered a late-inning reliever.

In the first case, he still wants another bat. He wouldn't say at which position, but it would most likely have to be an outfielder or first baseman. James Loney would seem to be a logical offering in return as he enters his final season before free agency and Colletti often has mentioned the capability of Juan Rivera, Jerry Sands and Adam Kennedy to play first base.

From all indications, it would not be a catcher (where the Dodgers will start A.J. Ellis with Matt Treanor the backup) and he's seemingly committed at the other five positions with center fielder Matt Kemp, right fielder Andre Ethier, third baseman Juan Uribe, second baseman Mark Ellis and shortstop Dee Gordon.

Without offering a name, he said one player he is targeting has been a starter at his position and would be "payroll neutral," indicating that either the player he would send would be of similar salary or the other club would pick up part of the incoming salary. Colletti said he didn't expect a deal while at the Meetings, which end Thursday.

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As for the reliever, Colletti was expected to meet Tuesday night with the agent for Mike MacDougal, who bounced back with a fine season while under the radar after being picked off the scrap heap with a Minor League contract. Colletti said he has had two previous conversations with the agent, but "it might be time to get more serious about it."

It should also be noted that MacDougal is represented by Hendricks Sports Management, which also represents Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Colletti said this week that he raised the possibility of discussing a multiyear extension with Kershaw, but had not received an indication of their interest. Kershaw is eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Also eligible for arbitration, but not expected to get the chance, is left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. Recovering from a fifth elbow operation after dealing with anxiety disorder, Kuo's return is unlikely. Colletti said he had not spoken to Kuo's agent since last month's General Managers Meetings.

Colletti wouldn't confirm the presumed signing of right-handed pitcher Aaron Harang to a two-year, $12 million deal, but indirectly acknowledged that even though the club was able to sign two starters (Harang and Chris Capuano) for the price of one Hiroki Kuroda, he had hoped Kuroda would stay.

"We gave him the chance to be creative," Colletti said when asked if Kuroda had the chance at a discount. "I had more conversations on him than anybody. He's a very loyal guy. We tried. Our interest was in trying to find a way to get him back."

Colletti said new research director Alex Tamin did the number crunching that drew attention to three areas the Dodgers were mindful of with acquisitions -- trouble their left-handed hitters had against left-handed pitching, defense up the middle and the effects that the three pitchers' parks in the division (Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and AT&T Park) have on pitchers and hitters.

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