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Dodgers send right-hander Claudio Vargas to Brewers

Trade opens up roster spot for newly acquired reliever George Sherrill. Meanwhile, Toronto's GM says there are no active talks involving Halladay.

August 01, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

ATLANTA — After the non-waiver trade deadline Friday passed without the Dodgers acquiring Roy Halladay or any other starting pitcher, General Manager Ned Colletti and Manager Joe Torre were asked the same question.

Do the Dodgers have enough starting pitching?

Colletti and Torre offered nearly identical answers that sounded short on conviction.

"I guess we're going to find out," Colletti said in a conference call.

"I think we're going to find that out," Torre said in the dugout at Turner Field.

What Colletti and Torre were quick to mention was that the acquisition of reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday could make up for the shortcomings of the rotation -- namely, the inability of the starters to pitch deep into games.

Sherrill, who was the Orioles' closer for the last year and a half, will set up closer Jonathan Broxton and pitch in the ninth inning on days Broxton isn't available.

"We shored up our bullpen, which is the other side of the equation," Torre said.

Colletti tried to do even more.

The Dodgers made a serious bid to acquire All-Star closer Heath Bell from the San Diego Padres, according to major league sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Dodgers and Angels were the last two teams that had a chance to land Bell, one of the sources said.

The Dodgers thought that by trading for Bell, they could add to a group of late-inning relievers that already included Broxton and Sherrill who could significantly shorten a game. The addition would have made it possible to move Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo and sidelined Ronald Belisario into middle relief roles.

The Dodgers and Padres also discussed a deal involving All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. But the only deal the Dodgers ended up making on the day of the deadline was one designed to clear a roster spot for Sherrill. The Dodgers sent Claudio Vargas, who sat out the first three months of the season because of elbow problems, to the Milwaukee Brewers for 29-year-old minor league catcher Vinny Rottino.

Colletti refused to talk about the conversations he had Friday. He did talk about the ones he didn't have.

Colletti said he didn't reach out to the Toronto Blue Jays to make a last-ditch effort to land Halladay, who was commanding a bounty of five or six prospects in lieu of a package that included Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley.

He also said that the Dodgers weren't involved in talks with the Seattle Mariners regarding Jarrod Washburn, who went to the Tigers.

Colletti revealed the Dodgers made a serious run at Cliff Lee, who was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

"I can tell you that it came down to the last minute," Colletti said.

Colletti said the Dodgers were prepared to part with four prospects to acquire Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner.

"As it got to the third player, we were starting to choke on the deal," Colletti said. "But we were ready to do it."

Colletti said he thought his team offered a better package than the one the Indians received from Philadelphia.

The Dodgers will look to add to their pitching staff in the coming month, as a significant number of players are expected to hit the waiver wire. Players who clear waivers can be traded and players added to rosters by Aug. 31 will be eligible for postseason competition.

Colletti said he expected more players to be available in this process than usual. He said the downturn in the economy could make teams reluctant to put in claims on players for the sake of blocking moves to other teams, as doing so could result in the claiming teams being forced to take the players and absorb their salaries.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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