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Dodgers' pursuit of pitching going slowly

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Dodgers were shut out 15 times this year and, with one day left in the Winter Meetings, are about to get blanked again.

A tight-lipped general manager Ned Colletti said he spoke Wednesday to Casey Close, agent for top free-agent target Zack Greinke, but wouldn't say if he made an offer, adding that he didn't have "any idea" when a Greinke deal might occur.

"There's still a lot of due diligence going on," Colletti said. "Conversations are getting deeper, but I don't think people are quite ready to make choices."

Nor would Colletti say if he felt he was closer to a deal for Korean free-agent pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin.

"I just feel closer to Sunday," Colletti said, because at 2 p.m. PT Sunday the Dodgers must either have a deal with Ryu or he returns to Korea.

If the Dodgers haven't acquired Greinke by then, their need to sign Ryu heightens, as there are really only two other starting pitchers available that could satisfy the club's goal of adding two front-line pitchers to the rotation -- Anibal Sanchez, a free agent, and Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, who would require a trade with the Mets.

Not surprisingly, the Dodgers' toughest competition in the pursuit of Greinke, the Texas Rangers, are also working the Mets hard to land Dickey and presumably have more top young players to send back to New York than do the Dodgers.

The Rangers, who still want to re-sign outfielder Josh Hamilton, are understandably concerned that they can't beat the Dodgers in a bidding war for Greinke and probably can't afford to sign both Greinke and Hamilton.

The Dodgers can afford pretty much whomever they want, but the talent pool is thin.

The speculation is that Greinke, and not Close, is orchestrating the leisurely pace of negotiations, which has log-jammed the free-agent market for pitchers. The 29-year-old Greinke could wind up with a contract bigger than CC Sabathia's record for a pitcher of seven years and $161 million.

Meanwhile, the negotiations for Ryu are handled by Scott Boras, who lacks the traditional leverage of free agency because Ryu can negotiate only with the Dodgers and only until Sunday. But that was also the case when Boras negotiated previous deals for Asian free agents.

"We have standards that all of us agree the guy is a No. 3 starter in the Major Leagues," Boras said Wednesday. "And past practices, negotiations that we've done for [Daisuke] Matsuzaka, at that time Matsuzaka got paid [$52 million, six years] like he was a No. 3 pitcher in the big leagues. We think very highly of Ryu.

"We've offered shorter-term contracts for [the Dodgers], trying to be creative, and I think that helps them and helps us because we think this player has an upside that will grow higher in the Major Leagues. It's something that Ned and I have to work out, but it's going to have to be done within the standards of what other teams have done with other international players."

A shorter term, however, is not necessarily a benefit to the team, which has posted a deposit of $25.7 million that goes to Ryu's Korean team if he signs a contract of any length.

Colletti said he wanted to re-sign left-handed reliever Randy Choate, but had no interest in giving him a three-year deal, as the Cardinals did for $7.5 million. Colletti said he has "others in mind. ... It's not like I'm losing sleep over it."

He also indicated he would like to sign a veteran catcher as Triple-A protection for starter A.J. Ellis and his new backup, rookie Tim Federowicz.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Randy Choate, R.A. Dickey, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu