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LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers fans alarmed by the names and numbers of prospects demanded in return for a slugger like Miguel Cabrera are not alone. Ned Colletti sounds alarmed, too.
"Any player that you would consider a middle-of-the-order bat, a run producer, as predicted, the cost of the prospects going back, at least in our minds, far exceeds the value of the player," the Dodgers general manager said Friday. "It's not one prospect, it's not two prospects, but in some cases it's three or four prospects. And our prospects are no longer prospects. They are big league players that continue to get asked about."
Young Dodgers other clubs ask about most frequently are Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton and Minor League pitcher Clayton Kershaw. To get someone like Cabrera, who is on a Hall-of-Fame pace and is still two years away from free agency, the demand is at least three of them.
"We're still on a mission to try to find it and cure it," Colletti said of an upgrade. "If that fails, we'll try to improve the club, even if it means the 25th man or the last pitcher. Right now, trade-wise, its a lot of bait-and-switch. We thought we had a deal the other day, but they got cold feet at the end."
Colletti indicated the most-likely scenario for the Dodgers to improve their lineup would be to sign a free agent position player -- center fielder Aaron Rowand seems to be his main target -- creating a surplus of outfielders that would position the Dodgers for a trade to improve another area, be it for a third baseman such as Cabrera or a starting pitcher.
While the Dodgers would prefer to deal Juan Pierre or Andre Ethier, any club willing to deal a player of Cabrera's stature would insist on equal value, meaning a player with the highest upside potential, meaning Kemp.
Colletti said he has interest in Rowand, as well as fellow free agents Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones.
"We're curious to know what their interest level is in playing here and what it's going to take to get them here," he said. "They're all accomplished and all bring something to the table.
"We have some depth in some areas. If we improve in one area via free agency, it may open a trade route for us. Or we can improve ourselves with just a trade. The way it's shaping up, we can sign a free agent and it may cause a domino effect that can make someone expendable on our part to make a trade."
Meanwhile, manager Joe Torre, who spoke about adding pitching at his introduction last week when he conceded he wasn't very familiar with the roster, apparently has done some cramming on the personnel he inherited, because on a conference call Friday his priorities had changed.
"Right now, we're looking to see what we can do offensively," he said. "And any time you can add quality pitching to your staff, you do it. I don't know if there are any gaping holes from what I've heard. I'm more familiar with the names of our guys, the Kemps and [Andy] LaRoches and Loneys."
Torre also said he was not surprised that Alex Rodriguez would return to the Yankees.
"What surprised me more was A-Rod opting out," Torre said. "I thought Alex was very comfortable last year."
Colletti said the Dodgers would have been "in the mix" if Rodriguez had demonstrated that he wanted to be a Dodger.