"We feel Joe's interested in coming back at least one [extra] year as manager, then moving into a role in baseball operations," said Colletti. "It's in the early stages, not as much a negotiation as a discussion of what he wants to do. It depends how much time he wants to spend on it.
"Obviously, he's a great evaluator, a great motivator; he can help us in a lot of ways. It depends how much time he wants to spend traveling, at home, how much he wants to put into it. It's too early to talk about; it's at least two years from now. We'll tailor something if we get to that point."
The 69-year-old Torre is about to enter the final year of a three-year contract he signed after leaving the Yankees following the 2007 season. He said recently that he was having so much fun as Dodgers manager, he was thinking about a one-year extension. Torre also had previously mentioned that he'd like to remain in the game in some role after he retires as a manager, but this is the first time such a role has been publicly mentioned specifically with the Dodgers.
And when Torre steps down, Colletti gave a pretty good explanation why Mattingly is considered the likely replacement.
"When I first talked to Joe before we hired him, I told him I'd like to have your successor on staff, or at least in the organization, and he said 'that's fine, think about Don Mattingly as a coach now and successor later. See what you think and get to know him,'" Coletti said. "That's where we're at."
Mattingly, who backed out of consideration for managerial openings this offseason in Cleveland and Washington, came on board with Torre in 2008 as hitting coach, but missed the first half of the season to attend to family issues. He rejoined the staff at the All-Star break that season, was considered instrumental in the club's second-half rally, then coached the Dodgers to the highest team batting average in the league in 2009.
"Continuity in an organization is very important," said Colletti. "Look at this organization's continuity for a long period of time. [Walt] Alston was here so many years. Tommy [Lasorda] had been in organization, he coaches for him, then takes over. He understands the system, the culture, he knows the players. It's such a valuable part. And it doesn't happen anymore.
"If you're going to have a successful organization, if you're going to teach a culture and have the players look at the game in a certain way and prioritize in a certain way, having people coaching from the outset is very important and whoever is managing the big league club has to be on the same page. If you're constantly changing personnel, it's tougher to develop that. They may not have the same feelings you do. To find somebody geared completely the way you are and who hasn't been brought up in it, it's tough to do. Plus, you haven't seen it. Hire from within, at least you know who they are and how they see things and what they grasp and what they accepted as the way we're going to do it."
Colletti gave no indication he felt previous managerial experience was a necessity. Mattingly hasn't managed.
"There are some who have and some who haven't," Colletti said. "If it turns out to be Donnie, the transition from Joe would be powerful."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.