After observing one of his 14 free agents, Greg Maddux, officially retire at a Winter Meetings news conference, Colletti held a far-ranging briefing for reporters.
He seemed cautiously optimistic that he can successfully and soon re-sign third baseman Casey Blake, who has been demanding a three-year contract.
"He'd be a huge piece for us," said Colletti, as that would allow Blake DeWitt to remain at second base.
Colletti said he was about to meet with the agent for Rafael Furcal, who reportedly has rejected a four-year contract from Oakland. Colletti wants Furcal back, but only with a shorter-term, incentive-filled deal because of the back surgery Furcal had this year.
He said if he loses Blake, he'd probably move DeWitt to third and might sign a platoon of free-agent middle infielders to fill in at second base, presumably not someone with the price tag of Orlando Hudson. He also knocked down rumors of a trade with the Yankees for Robinson Cano, saying he hasn't "had any talks of merit" with the Yankees.
While repeating that his priority is firming up the infield and acquiring a couple pitchers to replace departed free agents like Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Joe Beimel and Maddux, Colletti said he hasn't given up on the return of outfielder Manny Ramirez, who did not respond to the Dodgers' two-year offer of $45 million plus an option, or their offer of salary arbitration. Colletti said he finds it "curious" that there has been no discussion between the two sides since the General Managers Meetings a month ago.
"His name hasn't come up and I don't feel it's my place to bring it up," Colletti said. "If our offer wasn't good enough, apparently it wasn't because he didn't take it. We'll see. As great as he was for the organization for two months, L.A. is attracted to that star-type player and buzz was electric. The best scenario is to have that type player on a team that wins. The worse-case scenario is that type of player on a team that's not going to win."
Nonetheless, he said if Ramirez shows up for Spring Training at Glendale, Ariz., "we'll find him a hat and uniform."
He said the club hasn't made an offer to Lowe because "it seemed Derek doesn't want to be here. We're not spending much time trying to persuade him. We haven't talked seriously."
Lowe is likely to receive a three- or four-year contract around $15 million annually and has insisted his top priority is being on a team fully committed to winning.
Colletti said he suspects the general economy is having some impact on a generally slow free-agent market.
"When you make an offer, you're getting less verification whether it's a good or bad one," he said of his talks with agents. "That tells me they don't know if it's the best they'll get or the worst."