Daily Distractions: Predicting the Dodgers’ agenda for the Winter Meetings.

Juan Uribe

Juan Uribe is the Dodgers’ first choice to play third base in 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Tuesday was such a busy day for free agent signings and trades around baseball, one website asked what many major league beat writers were probably thinking: “Who needs the Winter Meetings”?

For the Dodgers at least, next week could be a productive one. The Brian Wilson deal isn’t official yet, despite reports that he passed his physical. Assuming that contract has been signed by the time Dodgers officials land in Orlando, Florida, here’s what will top the to-do list:

1. A third baseman. General manager Ned Colletti is still hoping to bring back Juan Uribe, who is reportedly seeking a three-year contract. If the Dodgers are willing to go to a third year, there must still be a gap in dollar figures being exchanged by the two sides. Maybe they can overcome their differences in a week. Maybe not. If the Dodgers aren’t ready to commit to Hanley Ramirez as their third baseman for 2014, they might be best suited to resolve the position via trade if Uribe signs elsewhere. The free-agent crop at third base is really that thin.

2. A left-handed reliever. The Dodgers have a nice stable of right-handers among Kenley Jansen, Wilson, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and Jose Dominguez. Other than Paco Rodriguez, who petered out around the time of his 66th appearance in 2013, they don’t have a single established lefty reliever who will be healthy to start next season. (Scott Elbert underwent Tommy John surgery in June.) Re-signing J.P. Howell seems like the logical move, even if he is seeking a three-year contract. At age 30, Howell is a less risky investment than, say, Randy Choate, who was 37 when the Dodgers wouldn’t give him a three-year contract at this time last year. Javier Lopez raised the market value by signing a 3-year, $13 million deal to stay in San Francisco and Howell’s numbers are comparable. If the Dodgers can’t re-sign Howell, they may turn to a veteran such as Scott Downs on a shorter-term deal.

3. A bench. After losing Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto as free agents, the Dodgers lost arguably the two most proven quantities on their bench. Backup catcher Tim Federowicz, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke, outfielder Mike Baxter and whatever-he’s-playing-these-days Dee Gordon are all in line for bench jobs. The Dodgers would like to bring in another infielder as insurance if Alexander Guerrero isn’t ready to be the everyday second baseman. They could also shake up the equation by accepting trade offer for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Some bullet points to tide you through the weekend:
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Reports: Hiroki Kuroda re-signs with Yankees.

The Dodgers can cross one name off the list available free-agent starting pitchers.

Hiroki KurodaRight-hander Hiroki Kuroda agreed to terms with the New York Yankees on a one-year contract Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The former Dodgers pitcher is the first big-name starter to leave the market, and his $15 million price tag (plus incentives) is significant.

It should come as very good news for free agents Anibal Sanchez and Zack Greinke, both of whom fit the profile of the second or third starter that the Dodgers are seeking. The 37-year-old Kuroda was looking for a short-term deal, but that’s not believed to be the case with the 29-year-old Greinke and the 28-year-old Sanchez. Both pitchers can probably command a better average annual value than Kuroda on the open market.

But that could also be good news for the Dodgers, baseball’s new big spenders, who may have the financial edge in any bidding war for Greinke and Sanchez this winter.

The hot stove is heating up.

Dodgers’ free-agent wish list starts with two pitchers.

Baseball’s annual general manager meetings are nearly wrapped up. Here’s what we know: The Dodgers’ free-agent wish list is headlined by a pair of right-handed starting pitchers. One is Hiroki Kuroda. According to CBSSports.com, the other is Anibal Sanchez.

Writes Jon Heyman:

This news should be of some comfort to the Angels, who internally have wondered whether their crosstown rival might try to blow them out of the water on (Zack) Greinke, who is clearly their far and away No. 1 winter goal.

The Dodgers are likely to at least look at Greinke, Kyle Lohse and others, as they are determined to land at least one starting pitcher — and maybe two

General manager Ned Colletti didn’t want to lose Kuroda as a free agent last winter. But due to the Dodgers’ shrinking budget, he opted instead to sign Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang at a discount — their combined 2012 salaries of $6 million were less than the $10 million Kuroda got from the New York Yankees.

Hiroki Kuroda
Given the opportunity, it makes sense why the Dodgers might want to bring back Kuroda. In three seasons in Los Angeles from 2008-11 he won 41 games while compiling a 3.45 earned-run average. Last season he led the Yankees with a 3.32 ERA and shared the staff lead in wins (16-11).

Sanchez has been consistently good the past three seasons. Shipped to Detroit at midseason in the Marlins’ semi-annual fire sale, he went 4-6 in 12 regular-season starts for the Tigers. Anibal SanchezBut Sanchez shined in the playoffs, posting a 1.77 ERA in three starts as Detroit advanced to the American League Championship Series. His six-pitch arsenal is anchored by a low-90s fastball. The 28-year-old from Venezuela is regarded as a ground-ball pitcher whose control has improved greatly in recent years.

Don’t expect either pitcher to sign anywhere this week. It’s a relatively thin market for starting pitchers and the best of them might not leave the board until December.

The general managers will reconvene Dec. 3-6 at the annual winter meetings in Nashville.

Ten Dodgers become free agents.

The Dodgers declined to exercise the 2013 club options on Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera and Matt Treanor.

They join another seven players who became free agents today: Brandon League, Shane Victorino, Randy Choate, Jamey Wright, Joe Blanton, Adam Kennedy and Bobby Abreu.

In other words, no big names or surprises for the Dodgers on the first day of free agency. Players can only sign with new teams beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. Between now and then, the Dodgers can re-sign any of their in-house free agents, and they’ve already opened discussions with League’s representatives.

General manager Ned Colletti said that he would like to bring back Choate and Wright, as well, to keep intact a bullpen that finished the 2012 season strong.

Coffey, Rivera and Treanor now fall into the category of Victorino, Kennedy and Abreu: highly unlikely to be on the roster next season.

Blanton is an interesting case. The Dodgers gave him what amounted to a 10-start audition in August and September. In five starts at home, the 31-year-old right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA. Not bad. In five road starts he was 1-3, 6.51. Bad.

I guess that makes Blanton a “known quantity” for a team that is looking to add a starting pitcher. But looking at a free-agent market that now includes Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse  and Hiroki Kuroda (another “known quantity”), the Dodgers probably figure they can do better.

The hot stove is just warming up.

Postgame: Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3 (10 innings)

The Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-3 tonight in 10 innings. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

The big story for the Dodgers tonight was what happened to starter Hiroki Kuroda. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal lined a 2-2 pitch right back at Kuroda’s right temple, and the 34-year-old righthander went down immediately. He did move, however, and CAT scans taken after the game at St. Joseph’s Hospital were negative.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers held a 3-1 lead into the ninth but closer Jonathan Broxton allowed back-to-back homers — only his third and fourth homers allowed of the season — to blow the save.

The Blue couldn’t put anything together offensively in the tenth, and the D’Backs came back with a perfectly executed bottom half of the inning off of Ramon Troncoso to get the win. Augie Ojeda singled, Dan Haren bunted him to second, and after two walks, Gerardo Parra hit a walk-off single.

ETC…ETC

The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead, but Ryal’s hit — ruled a ground-rule double — sparked the first run for the D’Backs. From there, the L.A. offense wasn’t the same, with only two hits.

Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill both feasted on an Arizona lineup that was incredibly left-handed in scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The 1-7 hitters in the D’Backs order were lefties.

Offensively, Brad Ausmus had an RBI single in the second, Doug Davis threw a pick-off away in the fifth to score Rafael Furcal, and Mark Loretta hit a sac fly to bring in Casey Blake in the sixth inning.

Matt Kemp didn’t have a hit but still wreaked havoc on the basepaths, reaching base via walk in the tenth inning and stealing second and third.

ON DECK:

Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.43) tries to salvage a game for the Dodgers against Arizona’s Yusmeiro Petit (2-6, 5.87) tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Breaking: Hiroki Kuroda hit in the head by line drive

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Arizona pinch-hitter Rusty Ryal. Ryal, replacing D’Backs starter Doug Davis, hit a 2-2 pitch right back up the middle. Kuroda reacted violently to the ball and hardly moved while on the ground. Ryal appeared apologetic; among notable Dodger reactions included 21-year-old lefthander Clayton Kershaw, who looked legitimately shocked. Eventually, a car came to take Kuroda away and James McDonald replaced him. We’ll know more later.

Postgame: Dodgers 4, Giants 2

The Dodgers beat the Giants 4-2 tonight in the first of three games in San Francisco. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Timely hitting gave the Dodgers the victory tonight, even though they went just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. All four runs came in the fourth on a Matt Kemp three-run double and Mark Loretta RBI single.

Hiroki Kuroda turned in a solid start, giving up just one run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. It was also his longest outing since June and gave him wins in consecutive starts for the first time this season.

Joe Torre used his bullpen by the book. Hong-Chih Kuo faced one batter after replacing Kuroda, Ronald Belisario came in to set up a righty-righty matchup, and George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton pitched the eighth and ninth innings. Kuo, Belisario, and Sherrill all got holds. You hear a lot of criticism of the Dodger pen, but there are quite a few solid arms.

ETC…ETC:

Broxton gave up a solo jack to Bengie Molina and a single to Randy Winn with one out in the ninth, but he got Fred Lewis to ground into a force out and Juan Castro made a nice play on a Ryan Garko grounder to end the game.

Chad Billingsley won’t make his Wednesday start with the hamstring injury, so the Dodgers will have to bring up another Triple-A starter or use Jeff Weaver, barring a waiver wire pickup. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger has a 3.55 ERA in 22 starts with Albuquerque, and he averages nearly seven innings a start.

The Dodgers victory puts them 6.5 games in front of the Giants in the NL West, but the Rockies — on the strength of a cycle by Troy Tulowitzki — stayed 5.5 back.

ON DECK:

Randy Wolf (5-6, 3.55) and Joe Martinez (2-0, 5.87) take to the mound in the second game of the series.

Postgame: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5-3 tonight to end their season-high four-game losing streak. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Oh, was this one big. The Dodgers eeked out a victory to salvage a game out this four-game set with the Cardinals. Neither the pitching nor the offense was great, but the Blue found a way to win.

Matt Kemp came up with the game-winning single in the top of the 10th, knocking in two runs with two outs against Todd Wellemeyer.

The 1-4 hitters in the Dodgers lineup went 1-for-17, including a woeful 0-for-5 day for Manny Ramirez on the day his name came up in a New York Times report that said he tested positive for PEDs in 2003.

Hiroki Kuroda turned in a quality start, going six innings and giving up two runs. Cardinal starter Kyle Lohse did him better, allowing only one run in his six frames.

ETC…ETC:

The Dodgers revamped their bullpen today, trading for George Sherrill and replacing Brent Leach on the active roster with Scott Elbert. The ‘pen did a solid job, allowing only one run in four innings — a solo shot by Rick Ankiel off Guillermo Mota. It broke Mota’s 20+ scoreless innings streak.

Casey Blake went 4-for-5 and scored two runs. Matt Kemp had two other hits besides the game-winner and had an incredible stolen base in which he took off before Kyle Lohse even started his delivery.

Jonathan Broxton got the save but didn’t look all that impressive a day after he blew a crucial save attempt. His fastball didn’t appear to have the same velocity as usual and he walked the leadoff batter, Joe Thurston.

ON DECK:

Jason Schmidt (1-1, 7.88) and Tommy Hanson (5-1, 2.95) at 4:30 P.M. PST in Atlanta tomorrow.

Postgame: Dodgers 4, Marlins 3

The Dodgers beat the Marlins 4-3 tonight at Dodger Stadium. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Casey Blake won it with a walk-off single in the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and a 2-2 count. He was facing Marlins reliever Luis Ayala and hit a bloop pop-up that found a hole between second and center.

Hiroki Kuroda turned in only his second quality start this season, going six innings and giving up three runs.

The Dodgers won this one on the strength of their bullpen, as Guillermo Mota and Jonathan Broxton turned in spotless relief (only one walk and no hits allowed in three innings), and they scored three runs off a total of five Marlins relievers. Mota extended his scoreless innings streak to 19. Broxton got the win, his seventh.

Andre Ethier and Orlando Hudson each had three hits as Ethier continued his tear of late. Rafael Furcal went 2-for-5.

ETC…ETC
:

Marlins starter Rick Vandenhurk stymied the Blue, allowing a run in the first but shutting them down before exiting after five innings.

After 14 hits last night, Florida had only six Saturday. No Marlin had more than one hit.

Manny Ramirez went 1-for-5 and struck out in a key situation in the ninth.

ON DECK:

Chris Volstad (7-9, 4.34) and Jason Schmidt (1-0, 5.40) tomorrow night in the rubber game of the three-game set.