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Dodgers may seek tampering probe

Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers are leaving open the possibility of asking Major League Baseball to investigate whether the Boston Red Sox violated rules against tampering by discussing J.D. Drew with his agent before the outfielder opted out of his contract.

“We’ve looked into it, but beyond that I don’t have anything to say about it at this point,” General Manager Ned Colletti said.

A high-ranking Dodgers official said any suggestion of a rift between the Dodgers and Red Sox would be erroneous. Colletti and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein spoke several times during the winter meetings this week, and sources with both teams said the topic of tampering never came up. The two executives met the first night of the winter meetings to discuss a possible trade for Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez and returned each other’s phone calls all week.

Several weeks ago, Drew exercised an opt-out clause with three years and $33 million remaining on his contract. He signed a five-year, $70-million deal with the Red Sox this week.

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It would have been a rules violation for agent Scott Boras to discuss Drew with teams other than the Dodgers before he opted out. Boras said he did not violate the rule.

“I simply read the marketplace,” he said. “I didn’t need to mention anybody by name. It was clear there was a strong demand for an outfielder who can hit in the middle of the lineup.”

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Pitcher Jason Schmidt said he chose the Dodgers in part because of his strong relationship with Colletti and trainer Stan Conte, both of whom were longtime employees of his former team, the San Francisco Giants.

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“Ned wants to win,” he said. “Stan, in my opinion, is the best trainer in all of baseball.”

Schmidt, 33, signed a three-year contract for $47 million.

“There were definitely longer offers out there, but three years is what I was comfortable with,” he said. “I have a couple of kids running around the house. If I want to play after three years I will, but if I want to do something else, I can.”

Outfielder Luis Gonzalez said he chose the Dodgers over the Baltimore Orioles because he believes he has a better chance to get to another World Series. He was a key part of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ championship team in 2001.

“You sit at home and see the moves they made and the quality young players they have, and it’s a no-brainer to want to come to the Dodgers,” he said. “Every player wants to have a shot to go to the playoffs and win a World Series. On paper it looks good. Now it’s up to us to produce and get to that next step.”

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The Red Sox are no longer interested in closer Eric Gagne, but sources close to the negotiations said the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers have made offers of one year for close to $6 million.

Gagne rejected the Dodgers’ offer of $4 million with performance incentives that could raise the total to $10 million.

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steve.henson@latimes.com


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