Dodgers make inroads on Day 2

Dodgers make inroads on Day 2

LAS VEGAS -- Midway through the Winter Meetings, the Dodgers now have retained their third baseman (Casey Blake), are finalists to also retain shortstop Rafael Furcal, are alive in the race for ace starter CC Sabathia, finally heard from Manny Ramirez and have even had a few clubs ask about Andruw Jones.

General manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday officially announced the signing of Blake to a three-year contract plus an option, while the deal for utilityman Mark Loretta is dragging on through the physical exam process but still expected to happen.

Furcal's agent told that the Dodgers, A's, Blue Jays and Royals were finalists for the shortstop, a key element in Colletti's offseason plans. The Dodgers are sticking to a two- or three-year offer, even though Furcal has been trying to extract a four-year deal from somebody.

"We talked to them today," Colletti said. "They seem to have multiple offers for multiple dollars, they've intimated that, and they said they'll keep us apprised. They don't seem to be in any hurry."

Neither, apparently, is Sabathia, and the Dodgers haven't made an offer or held a negotiating session, but each side has let the other know the interest is legitimate. Colletti was asked if he thought he had a shot at landing the lefty, who has nine-figure offers from the Yankees and Brewers.

"Some shot," he said. "I wouldn't handicap it as strong. He wants to pitch in California, supposedly. A lot of people are trying to figure out what they want to do and where they want to end up. They're not rushing, either."

Nor is Ramirez, although agent Scott Boras broke a month-long silence and met with the Dodgers on Monday night. The discussion involving Ramirez was brief, as the Dodgers learned he's still interested in a long-term contract and they aren't. So other than the meeting, nothing new with Manny.

Colletti said he is not currently "down the road" on any other free-agent starting pitcher. But he is not in a rush because most of the free-agent pitchers still aren't signed, even though his current rotation is young and thin. It consists of Chad Billingsley, who broke his leg in a fall at home last month, Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw and a group that includes Jason Schmidt, James McDonald and Eric Stults. He said Billingsley had the cast taken off a couple days back and the healing is proceeding as expected.

Schmidt has one win and two operations since he signed two winters back.

"We're not counting on it," Colletti said when asked if Schmidt had a starting slot. "If it happens, great. We're prepared to go without."

He said "a few teams have asked for" Jones, last year's free-agent disappointment, but downplayed chances of trading him away.

"They [other teams] look for us to pick up a vast majority of his salary," said Colletti, with $21.1 million still due.

Colletti said he believed Jones was flying to the Dominican Republic Tuesday to begin playing Winter Ball for Aguilas. He is scheduled to play two weeks there, fly home for the holidays, then resume playing several more weeks with the hope that improved conditioning and a clear head will allow him to regain the form that made him a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner.

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