"We came here with four pitchers in mind, trying to figure a way to get them, and we're not really making headway," Colletti said.
Colletti didn't mention Halladay or any of the others by name, but said he spoke to Toronto about "the big guy."
"We talked to Toronto. It's tough to tell," he said when asked if the latest conversation was any more fruitful than a preliminary inquiry at last month's GM meetings. "They play pretty coy with what their thought process is."
Halladay, a free agent after the 2010 season, has given Toronto a Spring Training deadline to deal him. Presumably, the Blue Jays would insist on a king's ransom of Major League players and prospects in return. Then the acquiring club would need to negotiate a contract extension to keep the right-hander beyond 2010.
In a linked issue, Colletti disputed suggestions by agents and other clubs' officials that he cannot sign any player to a multiyear contract, the implication being that ownership uncertainty has limited his ability to make significant deals.
"Nobody told me that," Colletti said of a multiyear limitation. "When people come up with that, I'd like to have them come up here and tell me that's what they know."
The game plan coming into the Meetings was to deal Juan Pierre and the $18.5 million he will earn over the next two seasons for a veteran pitcher with a similar contract burden. Apparently, no such match exists at this time.
"Without deadlines, it's tough to push deals to get made," Colletti said. "That was always something of a long shot."
One pitcher the team asked about was former Dodger Edwin Jackson, who is on the verge of being traded by Detroit to Arizona in a three-way deal. The Dodgers apparently felt that the combination of prospects demanded by Detroit and the salary Jackson would likely earn through arbitration (about $5 million) was too high a price.
Colletti said if he could get "one bona fide veteran starter somehow, some way, we have enough faith in our young pitchers to give them a chance to be the fifth." He named James McDonald, Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom, Charlie Haeger and Ramon Troncoso as candidates. The top three starters are Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda.
The search for a veteran second baseman to replace Orlando Hudson apparently hasn't led anywhere either, as Colletti issued an endorsement for Blake DeWitt, who could inherit the opportunity. DeWitt just returned from three weeks playing in the Dominican Republic Winter League.
"It could easily be Blake DeWitt," Colletti said. "Sometimes we forget, while he's not going to win a Gold Glove, he hit nine homers and 50-something RBIs in half a season [in 2008]. We know how he works and what his character is all about. If he's short in any area, it isn't how hard he works."
As for a free-agent signing, Colletti said, "I don't think any free agent has got us scrambling to do something."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.