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12/04/07 10:01 PM ET
Dodgers, Jones continue to talk
LA only willing to offer short-term deal to free-agent outfielder
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
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.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.