With Josh Beckett sidelined, Dan Haren inconsistent and the bullpen short on dependable late-inning options, General Manager Ned Colletti said he remains in search of pitching as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
Speaking Saturday before the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres, 1-0, on A.J. Ellis' sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, Colletti intimated he was unlikely to trade for a front-line starter such as David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays or Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies.
In other words, if the Dodgers add to their rotation, it will probably be on the back end, as was the case last season when they acquired Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins.
Colletti didn't specifically address the team's interest in Price or Hamels, but said any non-contending team offering an elite player would want a package of top prospects in return.
“Probably more so than yours truly would like to part with at this particular time,” Colletti said.
Colletti said the Dodgers remain committed to rebuilding a farm system that was decimated under the ownership of Frank McCourt.
Now in their third season under Guggenheim Baseball Management, the Dodgers have three of the top 20 prospects in baseball, according to Baseball America: 17-year-old left-hander Julio Urias, 20-year-old shortstop Corey Seager and 22-year-old outfielder Joc Pederson.
Urias and Seager, who are with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, will represent the Dodgers in Sunday's Futures Game.
“Based on what I know of who can be acquired, even those of upper-echelon ability that are going to require more than others, I don't see us doing anything that's going to tear apart the farm system,” Colletti said.
The Dodgers are comfortable with the front end of their rotation, which consists of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
When the Dodgers resume play after the All-Star break, in St. Louis on July 18, Haren will take the mound against the Cardinals. Haren will be followed in the rotation by Greinke, Kershaw, Ryu and Beckett, or Beckett's replacement, in that order. That would line up Greinke, Kershaw and Ryu to face the San Francisco Giants a week later at AT&T Park.
Colletti didn't sound as if he was concerned about the team's infield depth, pointing to the anticipated returns of Justin Turner and Chone Figgins from the disabled list.
Turner is scheduled to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment Sunday with Rancho Cucamonga.
There's another significant upgrade Colletti believes is necessary, but he thinks that player is already on the roster: Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game because of problems with his throwing shoulder. The shortstop received a cortisone injection on the shoulder Thursday night.
“We need him back,” Colletti said. “We need him back full strength. We need his bat in the lineup. Right-handed power is such a rare commodity. We know what he did last year.”
Ramirez is batting .275 with 11 home runs and 48 runs batted in in 83 games. His numbers are down significantly from last season, when he hit .375 with 20 home runs and 57 runs batted in in only 86 games.
“I think he, especially early, may have been playing through some injuries,” Colletti said.
Colletti said there were times this season the Dodgers considered putting Ramirez on the disabled list. Ramirez told them such a move was unnecessary.
“Whether it's good or bad, he's fought it,” Colletti said. “When a player contends that he can post, you think twice about doing it.”
Ramirez will be a free agent after this season.
Asked whether extension talks between Ramirez and the Dodgers would be postponed until the end of the season, Colletti replied, “It's a possibility that it may wait that long. I haven't talked about it publicly and will continue to refrain from talking about it publicly.”