Pursuit of Jones, Rowand on hold
NASHVILLE -- With Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand asking for substantially larger contracts than the Dodgers are willing to offer them, General Manager Ned Colletti said Monday night that the representatives of the two free-agent center fielders would have to contact him to resume negotiations.
“I don’t see how we explore it from here,” Colletti said.
The Dodgers want to sign Jones or Rowand to deals of two or three years, according to a major league source. But Jones is believed to be looking for a contract worth more than the five-year, $90-million deal Torii Hunter signed with the Angels and Rowand wants at least five years. Annual salary was also a point of contention, Colletti said.
Colletti acknowledged on the first night of the winter meetings that the Dodgers made an offer to Japanese free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Colletti didn’t specify the terms of the offer, but a major league source said the Dodgers had in mind a three-year deal worth more than $20 million.
The Seattle Mariners are believed to have presented Kuroda with a four-year, $44-million proposal and the Arizona Diamondbacks are known to have made a three-year offer.
The Dodgers aren’t actively pursuing any other free-agent pitchers, but could turn their attention to free-agent right-hander Carlos Silva if their run at Kuroda falls short.
Though starting pitching remains the Dodgers’ top priority, the signing of a center fielder could be their most significant move. Adding Jones or Rowand would allow the Dodgers to move weak-armed Juan Pierre to left field, but also would make an outfielder on their current roster expendable and open the possibility for a trade.
If Jones or Rowand can’t be signed, the Dodgers will probably look at center fielder Mike Cameron, who must serve a 25-game suspension at the start of next season for testing positive for a banned stimulant.
Colletti said the Dodgers aren’t interested in Japanese free-agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
Among the potential trades the Dodgers are expected to explore this week are those with the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Joe Blanton or Dan Haren. The Dodgers have asked about Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Minnesota Twins left-hander Johan Santana and Baltimore Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard, but consider the asking prices to be excessive.
Colletti denied a report that the Dodgers made an inquiry to the Milwaukee Brewers about right-hander Ben Sheets.
The Dodgers have made an offer to closer Takashi Saito, who is out of contract but remains under the team’s control, Colletti said. Pinch-hitting specialist Mark Sweeney, backup catcher Mike Lieberthal and reliever Rudy Seanez were the other free agents from last season’s team that Colletti said could also be back.
The Dodgers signed Japanese college pitcher Robert Boothe to a minor league contract. The 21-year-old right-hander has an American father and a Japanese mother.