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Dodgers Waiting on Beltre

DePodesta hasn't made an offer yet because he knows third baseman will test the market.

October 23, 2004|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers have identified retaining third baseman Adrian Beltre as their top off-season priority but have yet to make him an offer and are unlikely to do so in the weeks before their exclusive negotiating rights expire.

Beltre can file for free agency as soon as the day after the World Series and can sign with another club as soon as 16 days after the Series. But negotiations are expected to be lengthy, with Beltre and agent Scott Boras expected to solicit bids from other clubs before considering any offer from the Dodgers.

General Manager Paul DePodesta said he kept in touch with Boras and saw no need to extend Beltre an offer before the Dodgers lost their exclusive negotiating rights.

"I wouldn't be averse to it," he said. "But I don't want to do it if it's just going to sit there for three weeks and give them something to shop. That doesn't do us any good."

Although he would be receptive to an offer from the Dodgers now, Boras said such a bid was not necessary.

"We're available to talk to the Dodgers at any time," he said. "The communication has been good with Paul. But I don't think the process is going to change much, whether you talk to us now or you talk to us later. We have a pretty good understanding of Adrian's placement in the major league marketplace."

Beltre, 25, led the majors with 48 home runs this season. Boras has declined to state an asking price but has indicated a six-year contract might be required. The most recent third basemen to sign big contracts at relatively young ages include Oakland's Eric Chavez (six years, $66 million) and St. Louis' Scott Rolen (eight years, $90 million).

Boras said Beltre would not return to the Dodgers without a commitment from new owner Frank McCourt to finance a perennial championship contender.

"There's a lot of information Adrian wants to know about where the Dodgers are headed," Boras said. "Adrian wants to play for a winner. He wants to know what their plans are for retaining players and acquiring players.

"This is a new ownership. The McCourt family came in [in January] and didn't have a chance to put forth their plan for an off-season. Those are things you would consider with any team."

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The New York Mets have received permission to interview Dodger coach Jim Riggleman for their managerial vacancy. Riggleman, the Dodger bench coach for the last five seasons, managed the San Diego Padres from 1992 to '94 and the Chicago Cubs from 1995 to '99.

Times staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.

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