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12/06/07 1:31 AM ET
Dodgers waiting on word from Kuroda
Los Angeles one of many teams battling for right-hander
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- General manager Ned Colletti reported on Wednesday that he still had not received word whether Japanese free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda would come to the U.S. next week or visit Los Angeles. The Dodgers, who late Wednesday night agreed to terms with outfielder Andruw Jones on a two-year deal, are competing with Seattle, Arizona and Kansas City, among others, for the services of the 32-year-old Kuroda. The right-hander is believed to have received a four-year offer from the Mariners. Colletti said that Kuroda "is just starting to be in the negotiating stage. I believe it's been a very methodical process to date. I assume many teams are involved." The Dodgers, similar to many teams, need to acquire substantial free-agent players such as Jones and Kuroda before making a trade, providing the depth from which to deal. From a timing standpoint, the Dodgers are likely to wait on a Kuroda decision before pulling the trigger on a deal for a pitcher such as Baltimore's Erik Bedard or Oakland's Dan Haren, which would cost multiple young players. Colletti indicated that no third-base acquisition appeared imminent, even with the apparent availability of Detroit's Brandon Inge after the Miguel Cabrera trade. Free agent Tadahito Iguchi is willing to move from second base to third if the Dodgers want him. Colletti also said that he will not spend significant salary on veteran relievers, because the Dodgers have as many as a half-dozen young pitchers who could pitch in the Major Leagues next year -- Clayton Kershaw, John Meloan, James McDonald, Scott Elbert, Ramon Troncoso and Greg Miller. Colletti said that the club would exercise some caution with Kershaw, who is only 20 and who is considered the top pitching prospect in the organization. But he was not worried about rushing him. "Because of his blend of ability and makeup, his birthdate is not as much of a concern," he said. Meloan, the only one who has pitched even briefly in the Majors, will be happy to hear that Colletti is considering changing the right-hander back into a starting pitcher. Meloan was drafted in 2005 as a starter and has expressed a desire to return to that role. In other news, the Rule 5 Draft will be held on Thursday. Among the Minor Leaguers the Dodgers could lose is pitcher Wesley Wright.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.