07/14/11 2:21 PM ET
Dodgers still picking Trade Deadline path
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"I'm undecided at the moment. Not of either frame of mind," he said. "I'd love to be in the buying mode, but this position [possibly selling] is new to me, and I don't frankly like it. We'll see how it goes the next two weeks. I'm still confident we can make a run out of the break. If we could pick up a game a week, we'd be in a decent spot. There are still a lot of games left in the division [42 of 70]."
If the Dodgers become buyers, it's probably on the Walmart level, if not the 99 Cents Only Store. After all, they are in bankruptcy protection. They were able to attempt a slight upgrade with Rivera because Toronto was willing to pay virtually all of his remaining salary. If the Dodgers can get a hitting infielder or veteran pitching help in the same fashion, that might be as much as can be hoped for.
And what if the Dodgers become sellers, who exactly will they be selling?
Club sources insist it won't be All-Stars Matt Kemp or Clayton Kershaw. It won't be Chad Billingsley or rookies Rubby De La Rosa or Dee Gordon, either.
Andre Ethier? Hmmm. In line to score an eight-figure salary next year -- and maybe nine figures as a free agent after next season if his power numbers return -- Ethier says he wouldn't be surprised if he finishes this season elsewhere. It makes a little sense. He could bring a king's ransom of players in return from a team that needs a left-handed impact hitter for a stretch run.
Of course, this is a franchise that traded away Mike Piazza in his prime. How did that work out?
Just about anybody else on the Dodgers' roster could be dealt, but probably won't. The ones who figure to draw the most interest are Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles, even Hong-Chih Kuo. But for the most part, the Dodgers would shape up as sellers with little to sell.
You don't move keystones to your franchise, like Kemp or Kershaw, without having replacements at the ready or getting them back in trade. The same goes for Ethier and Billingsley, unless the Dodgers are convinced they're receiving more than they're giving up.
De La Rosa and Gordon are the future, and the cream of a Minor League system that hasn't kept up with the needs at the Major League level.
Kuroda and Furcal -- owed about $5 million in salary each for the remainder of this season -- become candidates because they are both about to be free agents. In the case of the injury-prone Furcal, the Dodgers have groomed Gordon to replace him at shortstop and the leadoff spot.
In Kuroda's case, the buzz has already started. He's 36 and likely would return to the Dodgers on a one-year deal next year, if he decides to return to the Major Leagues and not his native Japan. He's exactly the kind of pitcher who can be a difference-maker for a contender down the stretch.
After suffering his 10th loss last week, Kuroda had the chance to say he would invoke his no-trade clause, but didn't and left the possibility open.
"As long as there's a chance to play in the playoffs, I don't want to think about it," he said of a possible trade.
In either case, the Dodgers would hope to land prospects or big league-ready players who are better than what they have on the farm, and that shouldn't be a high bar to clear. Maybe they could get something of value in return for Kuo, in spite of his elbow history and recent anxiety issues. Of course, he's only one season removed from the All-Star Game, and is under arbitration control for another two seasons.
Carroll and Miles are solid pieces who could help any contending club, but would that club be willing to give up a legitimate prospect for a supporting player? Not likely.
The Dodgers would be eager to deal first baseman James Loney. But considering his lack of run production this year, how attractive is he?
Of course, mathematically, Colletti could be right. If the Dodgers can continue this streak coming out of the break, it can tighten up a division that doesn't have a powerhouse. But that deadline works both ways, and time is fast running out.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.