Small victories rather than big wins for Dodgers at winter meetings

In a week highlighted by a court ruling that eventually could force their sale, the Dodgers departed from the winter meetings Thursday without Carl Crawford in their lineup or Cliff Lee in their rotation.

But General Manager Ned Colletti sounded pleased with what they did here over the last four days, as they agreed to one-year deals with pitcher Vicente Padilla, outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. and catcher Dioner Navarro.

“We got nothing that’s eye-opening,” Colletti said, “but it does help us put the team together and give us some depth.”

The three additions increased the Dodgers’ off-season haul to eight players, to whom they committed almost $80 million. Their projected opening-day payroll, including pending arbitration cases and salary deferrals from previous seasons, is close to $110 million.


The Dodgers’ rotation is set. And that’s more or less the case with their lineup, which, at the moment, appears overly left-handed, particularly if Gwynn, Jay Gibbons or Xavier Paul starts alongside Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in the outfield as expected. Colletti said he intended to address that issue by continuing his search for a right-handed hitter who can play left field.

“Somebody with a little bit of power would be a plus,” Colletti said, the latest sign that Bill Hall could be roaming the outfield in front of what used to be the Mannywood section.

Colletti said he’s also looking for a reliever.

But even if he doesn’t sign or trade for another player this winter, Colletti said he’s pleased with the Dodgers’ off-season.


“We’re better than when we ended,” he said, referring to the end of last season.

New opening day?

The Dodgers are scheduled to start the season against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on April 1.

For now.


But their opening day could be moved up on both the map and the calendar, as Major League Baseball is looking into having the Dodgers and Giants play March 31 in San Francisco in a game that would be nationally televised by ESPN, according to baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because nothing had been decided.

The plan calls for the two teams to then start a four-game series at Dodger Stadium the next day, as was previously scheduled. The March 31 game would eliminate an April 11 meeting between the two teams in San Francisco.

Short hops

Padilla passed a physical, finalizing his one-year contract worth $2 million plus incentives. … The Dodgers were named the Topps organization of the year, which isn’t as absurd as it might sound. The winner is determined by a points system based on honors bestowed on rookie and minor-league players. ... Three minor leaguers were lost in the triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft — first baseman Jaime Ortiz (to the Florida Marlins), catcher Fausto Mier (Texas Rangers) and reliever Matt Sartor (Giants). The Dodgers were paid $12,000 for each player.