By now, you have no doubt heard about the six-player blockbuster between Florida and Detroit, with the Motor City Kitties picking up both Dontrelle Willis AND Miguel Cabrera for two of the Tigers’ top prospects and four other guys. The American League gets better and the National League gets worse. Like that needed to happen.
By Tony Jackson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The likelihood that the Dodgers will return from these winter meetings empty-handed increased dramatically on Tuesday. One of the players they coveted, Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera, was traded to Detroit in a blockbuster, six-player deal, and another, Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana, appeared on the verge of being dealt to Boston.
That leaves Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, a free agent seeking to pitch in the United States after 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Carp, as the last potential impact player the Dodgers were pursuing that they still have a shot of actually getting.
All indications are that shot is at least as good as anyone else’s.
Kuroda, 32, is known to have received formal offers from the Dodgers, Seattle and Arizona, all of which are believed to be for three years and range from $27 million to $33 million. Kuroda has a strong preference for the West Coast, and the Dodgers and Mariners, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, are the two clubs with the best chance of signing him. There were indications Kuroda might prefer the Dodgers because of his longtime friendship with closer Takashi Saito and because playing in Los Angeles potentially would present Kuroda with more lucrative endorsement opportunities than Seattle.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti spoke directly with Steve Hilliard, Kuroda’s San Diego-based agent, for the first time on Tuesday. Until then, assistant GM Kim Ng had been dealing with Hilliard on behalf of the club.
“They aren’t quite sure (of a timetable) yet,” Colletti said. “Most of all, we wanted to let them know we have interest and to keep us in mind. I told him to give us a call when they know more or need to know more.”
Kuroda is planning to visit Seattle and Phoenix next week. Colletti said he wasn’t sure if Kuroda planned to visit Los Angeles during that trip, but logic would suggest he will.
Although a rumor circulated for most of the day that the Dodgers were discussing a trade with Baltimore that would bring left-hander Erik Bedard to Los Angeles, Colletti said no deal with the Orioles was forthcoming.
The Orioles reportedly were asking for reliever Jonathan Broxton and outfielder Matt Kemp, two of the Dodgers’ most promising young players. The Dodgers would be hard-pressed to trade Broxton, their fireballing setup man, given that Saito will turn 38 in February and that Broxton is the club’s only alternative to Saito in the closer’s role.
“I’m not interested in trading Broxton,” Colletti said. “It would depend on who the other side is offering, but I have never been offered a one-for-one trade (for Broxton).”
Angels GM Tony Reagins, who in his first two months on the job has been painfully reticent with reporters, offered a tantalizing tidbit in his daily media briefing on Tuesday.
“Some interesting things have surfaced … in the last 24 hours,” Reagins said.
True to form, Reagins declined to say what those things were. But without mentioning names, he did say what they weren’t.
“We haven’t had any discussions about adding starting pitching,” he said, ruling out Santana. “We like our staff. I think a lot of clubs would covet the position we’re in as far as pitching depth.”
One more indication that new Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly is the heir apparent to manager Joe Torre when Torre’s contract expires after the 2010 season: while Torre is missing these meetings for personal reasons, Mattingly is here, and when reporters went into Colletti’s suite for their daily briefing, he was there, too, along with player development director DeJon Watson and special assistants Vance Lovelace and Bill Mueller.
Coaches rarely attend the winter meetings. Managers, however, almost always attend and are part of their GMs’ inner circle, participating in meetings along with all the top front-office brass.