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With short list, Dodgers have plenty to spend

With short list, Dodgers have plenty to spend

With short list, Dodgers have plenty to spend
LOS ANGELES -- To those convinced the Dodgers will sign Zack Greinke because they can outspend every other team, why hasn't it happened already?

Ned Colletti has told the Greinke camp he's interested -- the club and the pitcher met on Thursday, according to multiple reports. But with Greinke apparently in no rush to sign, the GM will head to the Winter Meetings to see if there's someone better he can pry loose in a trade -- Cliff Lee, James Shields or Felix Hernandez, for example.

At the November General Managers Meetings, Colletti said much of his winter shopping was done during the summer. He doesn't need to add Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett or Nick Punto. He heads to the Winter Meetings, beginning Monday in Nashville, with a short shopping list and deep pockets. What a difference a year makes.

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But to satisfy new ownership's goal of a World Series now, Colletti wants somebody else's ace to slot behind Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. He will turn to Greinke only if he is sure he can't acquire someone better.

By posting $25.7 million, the Dodgers have exclusive negotiating rights with Korean lefty Ryu Hyun-jin until Dec. 10. His signing would be in addition to that "No. 2" starter, as would those of Ryan Dempster or Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse. The more pitchers the Dodgers sign, the more Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano become tradeable parts.

Maybe Colletti will just sign all of them. He has said you can't just collect players, but he's also said you can't have too much pitching. And we've already seen the kind of bold moves this new regime is willing to make.

They need a left-handed reliever, be it the re-signing of Randy Choate or another journeyman, because Scott Elbert is coming off elbow surgery and Paco Rodriguez has only one month of big league time.

The Dodgers need a fourth outfielder with center-field skills that they feel is an upgrade from Tony Gwynn. And they want a right-handed-hitting corner infielder who can be a backup to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and insurance at third for Luis Cruz, but interest in Kevin Youkilis appears only lukewarm.

Club needs

Starting pitching: The Dodgers want somebody else's ace to be a No. 2 behind Kershaw. If they can't trade for one, they can always outspend the other 29 teams for Greinke.

Left-handed relief pitcher: With Elbert coming off elbow surgery, Colletti wants to re-sign Choate or obtain a reasonable facsimile. They have met with Japanese free agent right-handed closer Kyuji Fujikawa. But with Brandon League, Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario returning, Fujikawa would need to accept a secondary or tertiary role, which probably isn't why he's coming to the United States.

Bench: Colletti rebuilds the bench every year. He got a head start with Punto's acquisition. Jerry Hairston returns as the most versatile role player, but he's coming off serious hip surgery. Rookie Tim Federowicz will apparently be the backup to A.J. Ellis behind the plate instead of a journeyman. Juan Uribe could become the backup corner infielder, if new hitting coach Mark McGwire can break through.

Whom they can or need to trade

The Dodgers haven't given up on Dee Gordon, but at the moment he's likely to be sent to Triple-A for a year of seasoning he missed last year when he was rushed to the Major Leagues. With Ramirez wanting to stay at short, there's no place for Gordon to play. Harang and Capuano were valuable additions last year, but this new regime wants to upgrade everywhere. The signing of Hyun-jin, Greinke, Sanchez or Dempster -- or some combination -- could make Harang and Capuano expendable.

Top prospects

RHP Zachary Lee: The Dodgers spent $5.25 million to sign Lee, ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 1 prospect, and he's been improving gradually. He lacks a dominant pitch but is off the charts in the intangibles.

OF Yasiel Puig: He's been struggling in Puerto Rico coming off an elbow infection, but the Cuban is a $42 million, five-tool investment with a high ceiling.

LHP Chris Reed: The former Stanford reliever wants to start, but he's been a little too brittle for that so far. He figures to return to Double-A next year.

OF Joc Pederson: The corner outfielder has big league bloodlines, and he plays the game hard. He'll go to Double-A after a full Class A season.

SS Corey Seager: This year's first-round pick showed considerable power in his debut professional season. His body projects a third-base move.

RHP Matt Magill: Signability made him a 31st-round pick in 2008, and he's been under the radar, but the staff thinks he'll be a big leaguer sooner than some bigger names.

OF Alex Castellanos: He's got a live bat, but it's unclear whether he'll be an outfielder or infielder. He had two callups to Los Angeles this year.

C Tim Federowicz: After a full season at Triple-A, Federowicz apparently has earned the big league backup job to A.J. Ellis. The club is not pursuing free agent A.J. Pierzynski.

RHP Chris Withrow: He still has the arm that made him a first-rounder, but this will be his seventh professional season, and he still hasn't reached the Majors.

Rule 5 Draft

The Dodgers are unlikely to devote a roster spot to a Rule 5 pick and don't seem overly concerned about losing anybody they haven't protected.

Big contracts they might unload

Uribe can be had for a song, as he has a $6 million salary and no role.

Arbitration-eligible: C Ellis ($490,000 in 2012), RHP Belisario ($480,000).

Payroll summation: To infinity ... and beyond. In bankruptcy a year ago, the Dodgers' payroll was around $90 million to start the season. It will be north of $200 million next year, with president Stan Kasten saying: "We'll worry about it later." With a TV windfall of $6 billion anticipated, what's to worry about?

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

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