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Dodgers have chips to deal, but won't be forced

Top prospects unlikely to be traded, though big-name hurlers could be tempting

SAN FRANCISCO -- Media, rivals and player agents convinced that the Dodgers will trade an outfielder have been wrong for nearly two years, and they will probably be wrong again as another non-waiver Trade Deadline looms on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.

Management doesn't view that surplus as a bad thing.

The priority area of concern for general manager Ned Colletti isn't trading an outfielder but acquiring a starter and reliever, and no deal is imminent. Of course, no deal was imminent three days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2008. So if Manny Ramirez can fall into your lap and turn around a season, anything is possible.

But supply and demand indicates that the Dodgers might do nothing more in the next few days than add to their bench depth. They started on Monday with a trade with the Cubs for backup infielder Darwin Barney. 

"We may not do anything," Colletti said on Saturday. "I think we have the players here that can win."

That would explain why manager Don Mattingly, earlier in the week, seemed to lower the bar on expectations when asked about the need for an acquisition.

"For me, I'll take my club right now," Mattingly said. "Sometimes you make a move to show you're trying to win. We know we're trying to win. I can't sit here and say I have to have anything."

Mattingly gets briefed on the trade talks that, for now, have the Dodgers convinced there are too many teams looking for pitching and too few teams selling it. And three confirmed sellers are division neighbors San Diego, Colorado and Arizona. There's no better way for an executive to get dismissed than to help the Dodgers beat them, so any deal with those clubs would extract a heavy price.

The price the Dodgers still aren't willing to pay is any of their top three prospects -- Corey Seager, Julio Urias or Joc Pederson. To land a difference-maker like David Price, Jon Lester or Cole Hamels, it would take two of them. That's even less likely, considering ownership's commitment to restoring in-house development.

"Based on what I know of who can be acquired, I don't see us doing anything that's going to tear apart our farm system," Colletti said.

Fans clamoring for Pederson to move in and, say, Matt Kemp to move out should understand that the front office must weigh the possibility that Pederson isn't ready for a starting or perhaps even a platoon role in a Major League debut during a pennant race. If the Dodgers trade Kemp or Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford and Pederson struggles, then what?

Colletti said Pederson is "in a good place," meaning still learning with Triple-A Albuquerque, where he works on hitting against lefties and cutting down his strikeouts. Last year, the Dodgers called up Yasiel Puig from Double-A Chattanooga with no experience, but that was an act of desperation. The team was in last place, while Kemp and Crawford were on the disabled list. Puig was a godsend, but the club's standing a year later is nowhere near desperate.

Besides, with the bullpen in flux and questions surrounding fourth and fifth starters Dan Haren and Josh Beckett, adding a pitcher is more important than subtracting an outfielder.

In the bullpen, Colletti has repeatedly shown a reliance on vets over kids with almost annual in-season deals for veteran relievers -- Elmer Dessens, Scott Proctor, George Sherrill, Octavio Dotel, Randy Choate, Brandon League and, last year, the signing of Brain Wilson.

Is Colletti's priority a starter or a reliever?

"I'm not sure we can be choosy," he said.

As for trading an outfielder, the Dodgers don't want to eat any of the three big contracts, and no other club is willing to absorb them.

July 31 is just one Deadline. Colletti often is just as active leading up to the waiver Trade Deadline in August, when he pulled off the 2012 blockbuster with Boston that brought in Crawford, Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Los Angeles Dodgers