According to baseball sources, once the Indians determined they would trade Lee, they targeted the Phillies as the preferred trading partner in the belief that Philadelphia had the deepest farm system among clubs interested in the former Cy Young winner.
The Dodgers made a strong late push that included some of the best prospects in their system, baseball sources said, but the Indians had zeroed in on Phillies prospects all along.
"Obviously, it's strengthened Philly with a top-of-the-rotation guy to go with Cole [Hamels] and make them better," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "That's why we had interest in him."
Colletti would not detail the package of players he offered or characterize how close he believed he came to acquiring Lee.
"You'll have to ask Cleveland how close we were," he said. "They don't give you a final score on how close."
The Dodgers, committed to keeping young starters Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, apparently presented the Indians with a package of the best prospects in the organization. Now that the Phillies are spent, the Dodgers seemingly could make another run at Toronto's Roy Halladay with a similar offering.
Prospects, but fewer of them, also will likely be the asking price for Baltimore closer George Sherrill, who remains high on the Dodgers' wish list. The Orioles are rumored to be targeting Dodgers' Double-A third baseman Josh Bell in a Sherrill deal.
"We're focusing on a handful of pitchers, not a wide group," said Colletti. "It's limited to a number of guys we feel will make a positive impact on our club."
Colletti said it's not a question whether he prefers a starter or a reliever but who is available and at what cost. However, he said some names have popped up in the last 24 hours "that were not available, but suddenly are available."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.