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Outfielders' health will determine Dodgers' plan

Club waiting to see how Kemp recovers from shoulder, ankle surgeries

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ned Colletti compares the Dodgers' apparent surplus of outfielders to last winter's apparent surplus of starting pitchers.

"Until we know they're healthy, it's hard to move anybody," Colletti said at the General Managers Meetings, addressing rumors that the club is shopping outfielders.

"We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon [after injuries to Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano], we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage. We need to have players that will be productive for us. When they're healthy, we have four really good ones."

But that's not now. The big unknown is Matt Kemp, who just finished his second consecutive injury-marred season with a pair of operations -- a cleanup of an arthritic shoulder overshadowed by involved surgery to repair a broken talus bone in his left ankle that could be career threatening. It will be months before the Dodgers know Kemp's prognosis.

Kemp has six years and $128 million remaining on his contract. Andre Ethier has four years and $71.5 million remaining. Carl Crawford has four years and $82.5 million and Yasiel Puig has five years and $26 million.

The Dodgers continue to monitor the status of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, whose availability is in limbo until MLB and the Japan League reach a new agreement on the posting system. Moving any of the three richest outfielder contracts would make that pursuit easier, as Colletti wants to add a starting pitcher and the Dodgers would probably back away if Ricky Nolasco really is seeking a five-year, $80 million deal as rumored.

The Dodgers also have short-term interest in retaining Juan Uribe to play third base, but won't be offering the kind of three-year deal they gave Uribe, who was essentially a no-show the first two years before returning to form in 2013.

Colletti said the Dodgers haven't talked to Hanley Ramirez about moving to third base as they observe new Cuban signing Alexander Guerrero in the Dominican Winter League, where he is playing shortstop (his true position) and second base. The Dodgers need to decide which position best suits Guerrero, as well as his readiness for the Major Leagues by April.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Alexander Guerrero, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe