Different July for Ned Colletti

LOS ANGELES -- These are strange days for Ned Colletti.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' general manager likes to point to his track record as an assistant GM for all those years with the San Francisco Giants and as the GM of the Dodgers for the past six seasons, and refer to the small number of games those teams have played that didn't have some bearing on the playoff race. It is a source of deep pride for Colletti, that his teams are almost always in contention if not to the wire, then at least to the days leading up to the wire. And that has been helped along, in almost every one of those years, by some significant acquisition at the trading deadline.

"I can tell you that the last week of July has been a very exciting time for me for a long, long time," Colletti said this week. "Every team I have been with, for a long time, has had a chance to either fortify itself for a better October or to try to get to October."

This year? Not so much.

So far, anyway, Colletti hasn't been able to bring himself to say, forthrightly or directly, that the Dodgers will be sellers at the deadline this year. To concede such a thing publicly simply isn't in his nature. But when we sat down in the visitors dugout at AT&T Park in San Francisco one day this week, he came oh so close.

"I think at this stage, the players we would be interested in are the type of guys who could help us a year from now," Colletti said.

In other words, the Dodgers are willing to trade established veterans who can help a contending club in exchange for young players -- possibly even minor league prospects -- who can help the Dodgers for years to come.

That is what sellers do, of course. They trade players who are about to become free agents so they can at least get something in return for them, as opposed to the nothing they would get if they held on to them the rest of the season and then couldn't afford to re-sign them in the winter. The Dodgers aren't in a financial position to really afford to re-sign anyone right now, and there is no guarantee that will be resolved in time for the upcoming offseason.

Through various media reports and conversations with a handful of sources, what I have learned is the Dodgers have only two such players who are drawing interest from other clubs. They are right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and utility infielder Jamey Carroll.

The Milwaukee Brewers are said to have a strong interest in Carroll, who probably would be a good fit for them because they need a guy who can play shortstop most, if not all, of the time. Like last year, Carroll has played far more than Dodgers officials wanted him to because of injuries to other players, and so enough of his incentives will kick in that he probably will end up making about $2.1 million in this final season of what originally was a two-year, $3.85 million deal.

The Dodgers view Carroll more as a salary dump, meaning any team acquiring him probably would have to pay most of what he is still owed, with the Dodgers probably getting no significant players in return.

Kuroda's case is different. He is on a one-year, $12 million contract, the bulk of which the Dodgers probably will pick up if he is dealt. But the Dodgers will want significant players in return. Further complicating the matter is Kuroda has a full no-trade clause in his contract that he would have to waive before he could be dealt, as well as the fact Kuroda hasn't decided whether to go into free agency this winter or return to his native Japan and pitch there.

Anyway, Colletti met with Kuroda at the team's San Francisco hotel Monday. At the time, he asked Kuroda to come up with a list of teams he wouldn't waive his no-trade for so that Colletti and his staff didn't waste time negotiating with those clubs or scouting their talent.

"We talked about what would be in his best interest," Colletti said. "I asked him to give it some thought and get back to me in a relatively short but decent period of time and to let me know what his interest might be, because it takes time from our perspective to look into what we might want back."

Colletti also made it clear he isn't pushing Kuroda out the door.

"If he wants to stay, he should stay," Colletti said.

Colletti said after Wednesday's game that Kuroda hadn't submitted that list yet, adding it probably won't be revealed to the media when he does. There are believed to be about five or six teams interested in Kuroda, four of which are the Brewers, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. It is conceivable that a package deal could be put together with the Brewers that would send both Kuroda and Carroll to Milwaukee.

Colletti did say Wednesday that he didn't have any trade talks heating up yet with any club for any player. More than a week remains before the deadline, though, so there is plenty of time for something to get hot, and trade talks typically gain steam very quickly.

Meanwhile, with his club mired in fourth place in the National League West, some 13 1/2 games behind the division-leading San Francisco Giants, all Colletti can do is lament about a season that got away for a variety of reasons and a trading deadline that will come and go without the usual adrenaline rush.

"It has been frustrating on a lot of fronts," he said. "I hold myself accountable because I am the one sitting in front of it. What we do have a chance to do this year is try to get healthy and try to be more productive, especially offensively. I still think we have a chance to play better than we have played, whether it's players playing for a free-agent contract or their next Dodgers contract or simply for the pride of the Dodgers organization.

"But all of that takes time, and it isn't getting any lighter out."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.