For two years, the baseball world has watched and wondered. The Dodgers' owners paid a record price to buy a North American sports team. They secured a record television contract. They signed off on a record payroll.
Guggenheim Baseball Management plays to win. Surely, it would not let a prospect or two stand in their way. The talk about replenishing the minor leagues was nice, but taking the best shot at a World Series would be nicer.
Yet, on the eve of baseball's trade deadline, the Dodgers declared yet again they intend to build from within. They could have surrendered the jewels of their revitalized farm system for David Price last winter, and they passed.
They could surrender again Thursday, for Price or Cole Hamels or Jon Lester, but they insist they will not. As the deadline loomed, Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said the team had no intention of dealing any of its three coveted prospects.
The Dodgers want pitching, but not at the cost of outfielder Joc Pederson, infielder Corey Seager or pitcher Julio Urias.
“We're not in the market to trade any of the three, period,” Colletti said during the Dodgers' 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. “There's been no player discussed that warrants two of the three.”
That stance — if the Dodgers maintain it through the deadline — probably would prevent the Dodgers from trading for the elite starting pitchers most commonly discussed.
The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly want all three of those prospects for Hamels, who is signed through 2018. The Tampa Bay Rays reportedly want two for Price, who is under club control through 2015. The Boston Red Sox would like one as part of a package for Lester, who can file for free agency after the season.
It appears the deadline will pass without the Dodgers trading away any significant players on their major league roster.
Colletti stopped short of declaring he would not deal Matt Kemp, whose agent has suggested a trade would be welcome, but said: “No one's ever heard me say we're shopping Matt Kemp. That's all in another world.”
Kemp hit a home run Wednesday, his third in two nights, and he drove in the winning run with a single in the 10th inning. He is batting .486 in his past nine games.
Colletti declined to discuss the Dodgers' other veteran outfielders, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, whose agents have remained silent. But, asked whether the Dodgers planned to use the trade deadline to resolve their logjam of veteran outfielders, Colletti said: “Your speculation would be unfulfilled.”
The Dodgers appear most interested in landing a late-game reliever, a pitcher who could complement J.P. Howell as a setup man ahead of closer Kenley Jansen. However, in discussing the market for available relievers, Colletti said, “I just don't see that many out there.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres are willing to trade relievers — the Padres' Joaquin Benoit and Arizona's Oliver Perez could be of interest to the Dodgers — but Colletti said “it's obviously tougher to make a deal” with a division rival. Available relievers include left-handers Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, Neal Cotts of the Texas Rangers and Andrew Miller of the Red Sox.
As for back-end starters, the No. 4 or No. 5 type that could replace Dan Haren or Josh Beckett, Colletti said there were “not many” available and “nothing live” in talks for one. Boston's John Lackey, a proven playoff performer for the Angels and Red Sox, could be a fit for the Dodgers, who could offer their first-round pick last year, pitcher Chris Anderson.
Said Colletti: “It's not like our needs are excessive. We're trying to take it from good to great, perhaps. It's not like we've got many holes to fill.”