Reports earlier in the day had baseball officials claiming the Dodgers were redirecting other clubs toward Sherrill, who is likely to receive a salary around $4 million through the arbitration process.
Responding to speculation that the divorce of owner Frank McCourt was having a financial impact on player decisions, Colletti said each year's payroll is impacted by many economic factors. The Dodgers' payroll last season was around $100 million.
"We've got a general idea," he said of a working 2010 payroll. "This year or 20 years ago in my career, a lot of it depends on how winter unfolds with revenue and different things. You see good signs, it goes up. You don't see good signs, it probably doesn't go up. It also depends on the players we're talking about."
Asked if next year's payroll could go down from this year's, he said: "Not at the moment."
As for Sherrill, Colletti said the bullpen was one of the team's strengths in '09, and he'd prefer to keep it that way rather than deal from that strength.
"[Dealing Sherrill] would be a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul type of decision," he said.
Colletti said there are young relievers in the farm system, but that the club plans to have Scott Elbert and Josh Lindblom open the 2010 season as starters, with James McDonald a possibility for either.
"From time to time, we put starters in the bullpen to help us on the Major League level, but you can't always rush them," he said. "You have to have the patience to develop them into starters. We'll try to maintain patience with Elbert and Lindblom and develop them into starters. Will it work? I can't tell you that. But the first week of December, that's what we're thinking."
Colletti said he remains focused on adding one or two starting pitchers, a second baseman as security if Blake DeWitt doesn't pan out and rebuild the bench.
He said the only free agent from last year's roster that he's talked to is Brad Ausmus, who hasn't decided if he will retire. Colletti is interested in bringing back Ausmus as Russell Martin's backup. He said pitcher Eric Milton, whose season ended with back surgery, would not return. The Dodgers also are in no hurry to sign any free agents coming off a significant injury, but that could change later in the winter.
And Colletti said he's not alone in taking a patient approach to free agency. He said the players are too, based on what he's heard from their agents so far.
"They're not showing me their cards," he said. "From what I've been seeing, it makes [a free-agent signing this week] unlikely."
Colletti said he spoke to outfielder Juan Pierre (owed $18.5 million for the next two years) about his future. He said Pierre had softened his desire for a trade from a year earlier and told him he would be open to moving him to a team where he would play every day -- and likely bring a starting pitcher in return.
"I think he's in a better place in his own mind about his role and we'll see what happens," Colletti said. "He's someone we'd talk about in the right situation for us and him."