Righty reliever remains on Dodgers' agenda

Righty reliever remains on Dodgers' agenda

Righty reliever remains on Dodgers' agenda
DALLAS -- The trade Ned Colletti said Tuesday he was hoping to make for a right-handed hitter had evaporated by Wednesday.

"It's probably gone away at this point in time," said Colletti, indicating only that it wasn't a player involved in another trade like Angel Pagan, who was traded by the Mets to the Giants.

On Thursday, the Dodgers are expected to finally announce the signing of right-handed pitcher Aaron Harang to a two-year, $12 million contract. Then the Rule 5 Draft will be held and the Winter Meetings will conclude, with the general manager bringing home Harang and utility man Jerry Hairston Jr.

Colletti hinted that a minor trade could occur involving a player on his 40-man roster, which likely would create room for the addition of a right-handed reliever that he still seeks.

He said he would not take any Rule 5 players for the Dodgers, but left open the possibility of making a selection and flipping the player to another club.

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The favorite for the right-handed reliever role still needing to be filled remains the man who had the role last year, Mike MacDougal, who turned into the bargain pickup of the winter.

He was signed to a $500,000 Minor League deal after battling through injuries and a Minor League demotion by the Cardinals in 2010. A former closer with Kansas City and Washington, MacDougal (35 in March) filled a key middle relief role for the Dodgers with 69 appearances and a 2.05 ERA (1.78 against division opponents).

MacDougal won't sign again for $500,000. One alternative the Dodgers talked to was former Dodger Takashi Saito, but he apparently is asking more than the Dodgers will spend after he earned $2.25 million this year in Milwaukee. The club seems to prefer MacDougal over the rest of the reliever group.

"We're a little further along with Mac because we know him," said Colletti. "We're not far along with anybody else."

Colletti met Tuesday night with Alan Hendricks, agent for MacDougal and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, talking "in and around parameters" of a deal for MacDougal. Colletti said there was no discussion of a long-term contract extension for Kershaw.

Colletti is focusing his search for bullpen depth on a right-handed veteran to provide backup for young closers Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen. The competition for left-handed relief roles, Colletti said, will involve pitchers he already has.

Scott Elbert advances to the primary left-hander spot with the imminent non-tendering of Hong-Chih Kuo, who had his fifth elbow operation and was hampered last year by anxiety disorder. That's a complete turnaround from a year ago, when the Dodgers were looking for lefties to replace Elbert, who went home in the middle of the 2010 season with stress-related issues.

Competition for a second lefty spot will include at least two left-handed non-roster invitees with past Major League experience -- Wil Ledezma and Alberto Castillo -- along with Michael Antonini, who was recently promoted to the 40-man roster.

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