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12/04/09 12:00 AM EST

Dodgers to pursue help for rotation

Second baseman, bench depth also on LA's checklist

Club needs:

STARTING PITCHER: Sure they'd like an ace, but it's the longest shot that they get involved in a Roy Halladay trade or sign a John Lackey. They've succeeded in unearthing a Randy Wolf-like bargain each year to fill a back-end-of-the-rotation role, and that's the most likely route they take, while hoping that Chad Billingsley rebounds and Clayton Kershaw continues his ace-like trajectory. There's always the possibility of a salary swap with Juan Pierre bringing an overpaid starting pitcher.

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SECOND BASEMAN: The first preference seems to be re-sign Ronnie Belliard to a one-year contract as a platoon/insurance with Blake DeWitt. If the Dodgers completely whiff on adding a veteran, they seem prepared to let DeWitt sink or swim, but they'd rather add a veteran. A large, if undistinguished group of free agents includes Craig Counsell, Felipe Lopez, and Juan Uribe, although fans are wishing more along the lines of trading for Dan Uggla or Brandon Phillips.

BENCH: Six members of this year's bench are free agents (Brad Ausmus, Belliard, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jim Thome). Of that group, the club is most interested in bringing back Belliard to vie with DeWitt at second base and Ausmus to back up Russell Martin behind the plate, if Ausmus doesn't retire.

Whom they can or need to trade:

OF Pierre: A year ago, the team and the player wanted a trade, but nobody wanted the contract. A year later, both sides are more content with the status quo, although general manager Ned Colletti has told Pierre he would do what he could to find him an everyday job elsewhere. Then again, where would the Dodgers have been when Manny Ramirez was suspended if they hadn't had Pierre?

2B DeWitt: It wouldn't seem likely, but if the Dodgers were to land a veteran like Uggla or Phillips, it most certainly would cost them DeWitt. He's not being shopped, though, because the staff loves his gamer approach.

RHP James McDonald: A year ago he was everybody's bet to make the starting rotation, which says a lot about trying to predict future roles. After an erratic season, he seems headed to the bullpen in a middle-relief role. But he has the kind of arm that other clubs no doubt find appealing.

LHP Scott Elbert: Right now, Elbert seems to have leaped past McDonald as a potential starter, but he's still unproven in that role on the Major League level.

1B James Loney: Nobody seems to be advocating this, but it can't be ignored that the Dodgers were interested in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez at the Trade Deadline. Loney's erratic power remains the big question mark, particularly for a first baseman.

C Martin: There are no signs the club has given up on him, but he's gone backward each of the past two seasons and that can't continue. The best guess is he won't be shopped, but he's not the untouchable Gold Glove/Silver Slugger/All-Star of just a few years ago.

Top prospects:

SS Dee Gordon, RHP Chris Withrow, RHP Ethan Martin, LHP Aaron Miller, OF Andrew Lambo.

Big contracts they might unload:



Billingsley, RHP Jonathan Broxton, OF Andre Ethier, OF Matt Kemp, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, Loney, Martin, OF Jason Repko, LHP George Sherrill.

Non-tender candidates:

Maybe Repko, but probably none.

Payroll summation:

Take your best guess. It's hard to know what the owner will spend when you don't know for sure who the owner will be. We know they spent about $110 million this year and it's a safe bet if it goes in any direction, it will be down, at least until ownership is clarified. There's a potential $40 million coming off the payroll in departing free agents, but there will be about $20 million in raises for the arbitration-eligible core of young players and the rest will be needed to replace the 15 free agents.

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