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Dodgers, Jones continue to talk

Dodgers, Jones continue to talk

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Talks between the Dodgers and Andruw Jones, suspended on Monday, were revived on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, but there's still no deal and no sign from general manager Ned Colletti that one will result.

"Nothing's changed but the day on the calendar," said Colletti, who added that the demands of years and money are still too great for his appetite.

Nonetheless, the Dodgers met with Jones' agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday with both sides aware that the Dodgers are willing to offer a short-term contract to the 30-year-old center fielder, who is coming off the worst season (.222 average, 26 homers, 94 RBIs) of his career. Chances are they will meet again this week, because there's a fit between the two and mutual interest.

Jones would provide the Dodgers with a 10-time Gold Glove winner in center field and a feared bat in the middle of the order, while the short term of the deal would allow Jones to revisit free agency while still relatiavely young (he's 30) with greater negotiating leverage if his offensive production returns to previous levels (he slugged 92 homers with 257 RBIs the previous two seasons).

Jones likely would seek a structure more along the lines of the one that former Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta gave J.D. Drew for a longer term with an opt-out. Drew exercised that escape clause last winter, leading to all kinds of offseason intrigue.

Acquiring an outfielder of Jones' stature would allow the Dodgers more flexibility for trades, perhaps even to consider moving Matt Kemp as the cornerstone of a package to obtain one of the few prime trade targets on the market like Johan Santana, Erik Bedard or Dan Haren.

Miguel Cabrera, dealt to Detroit in Tuesday's blockbuster, was at the top of the Dodgers' target list. But Colletti refused to part with three premium players (believed to be Jonathan Broxton, Kemp and Clayton Kershaw) plus prospect Andy LaRoche. Colletti said he is not of the mind to break up the core of the youth movement and that three-for-one or four-for-one was too much to deal for any single player.

"You fill a one-year need with a tremendous player and look around and have three more needs to fill," he said. "I'm not sure how you gain on the process."

Apparently, the Marlins never backed off from their original demands.

Colletti said the ability of Detroit to acquire players of the caliber of Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis because of a surplus of young pitching illustrates the value of protecting young pitchers.

Winter Meetings

"We believe in our scouts and when you listen to them talk about someone like Clayton Kershaw, for example, a few years down the road he might be the same guy [as Willis]. If there's four players you might deal and two of them have a chance to be one of those guys [like Willis], why would you do that?"

Colletti said the interest other clubs have in the Dodgers' top young players has "fortified" his belief that the youth movement is the correct strategy in the industry's current climate. And he said it is even more difficult for the Dodgers to deal their top young players because, unlike many of the prospects in the Cabrera deal, the Dodgers players that other clubs are asking for (except for Kershaw) are already proven in the Major Leagues.

"You see what it costs to acquire a player and how much the core of your team is uprooted to do it," he said. "We're on the right course. Other guys are on the verge of joining [James] Loney, Kemp, Broxton, [Chad] Billingsley. Maybe it's LaRoche, maybe it's Chin-lung Hu, maybe [James] McDonald or Kershaw."

In other Dodgers news, they met with the Orioles to discuss acquiring Bedard and learned that Baltimore wants Kemp and closer-in-waiting Broxton in return. No deal is imminent.

In fact, Colletti said he has "no interest in trading Broxton," which pretty well puts him in the untouchable category with Russell Martin.

The 28-year-old Bedard would be the only left-hander in a rotation that includes Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Billingsley. Bedard was 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA last year for the Orioles, finishing fifth in voting for the American League Cy Young Award and fourth in the league for ERA. He led the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings.

The Dodgers, however, would prefer to land Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, whose signing would come without dealing away any young players. Patience is required, however, as Kuroda has not given pursuing clubs a timetable on a decision and is considering a trip to the United States next week to visit the cities vying for him. Colletti said it was not decided whether Kuroda would visit Los Angeles.

The Dodgers also planned to touch base with the Oakland A's to discuss a possible deal for Haren or Joe Blanton.

Colletti, on his stated desire to acquire a big bat, suggesting it might turn out to be Kemp or Loney: "How do you know we don't have that right there?"

And Colletti, referring to the clubhouse tension that boiled over in September, said: "I've got a real good idea what went on, I know why it occurred and it's been addressed in a lot of different ways."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }