ST. LOUIS — The Dodgers completed one deal and pursued another on the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring reliever George Sherrill from the Baltimore Orioles and negotiating with the Toronto Blue Jays in a last-ditch effort to land All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay.
The trade deadline is today at 1 p.m. PDT. Sherrill, a 32-year-old left-hander, saved 51 games for the Orioles over the last two seasons, including 20 this year. An All-Star in 2008, Sherrill will set up Jonathan Broxton and close on days Broxton isn't available.
Sherrill is expected to be with the Dodgers today for the opening game of their three-game series in Atlanta. In exchange for Sherrill, the Dodgers sent the Orioles two minor leaguers: third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson.
The price for Halladay is considerably higher, as the Blue Jays are asking for five or six prospects because the Dodgers didn't want to include Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw in any potential deal.
General Manager Ned Colletti acknowledged that the Dodgers "exchanged communications" with Toronto but didn't sound optimistic that they could add Halladay -- or, for that matter, anyone -- to their rotation by the deadline.
"As of right here, right now, very slim between now and tomorrow," Colletti said of the chances of the Dodgers trading for a starter.
A major league source familiar with the talks said Thursday evening that the negotiations between the Dodgers and Blue Jays were "not dead."
The source could not characterize the chances of a deal.
"It's hard to say," the source said. "There's so much back-and-forth on this."
Colletti said the Dodgers could resume their search for a starter next month, when a significant number of players will hit the waiver wires. Players acquired by Aug. 31 will be eligible for postseason play.
With so few starting pitchers available, Colletti said he was taking a serious look at "two or three" relievers. He described the addition of Sherrill as a necessity.
"Our bullpen has pitched well, but they've been in a lot of games and there's a lot of youth," Colletti said. "I said all along I wanted a veteran who could pitch late in the game."
Colletti said Sherrill was one of the seven or eight pitchers the Dodgers scouted extensively this month. The GM also said Sherrill's experience pitching in the highly competitive American League East should serve him well.
Sherrill said he didn't mind not closing so long as the Dodgers continued to win. The Orioles were in last place and 18 games behind the first-place New York Yankees when he learned of the deal.
"It's exciting to be in a playoff race and all of a sudden have this big lead when we were 17 or 18 games back," he said.
Sherrill is owed $920,000 for the remainder of the season, and he cannot be a free agent until after the 2011 season.
Bell, 22, ranked by Baseball America as the Dodgers' No. 8 prospect, hit .296 with 11 home runs and 17 errors in 94 games at double-A Chattanooga.
Johnson, 21, ranked as the Dodgers' No. 15 prospect, is the son of former Orioles pitcher and current Orioles broadcaster Dave Johnson. He is 8-4 with a 3.82 earned-run average at Class-A Inland Empire, with 42 walks and 102 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.
Elbert called up;
Leach sent down
Scott Elbert didn't know why he was scratched from his scheduled start with triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday night.
"I thought it was two things: either I was being called up or being traded," he said. "The worst thing that could've happened was for me to stay there."
Elbert learned of his fate at 2 a.m. Thursday. He was called up.
Elbert, who posted a 3.97 ERA in the 11 1/3 innings he pitched in his first two major league stints this season, will probably be used as a long reliever, Manager Joe Torre said.
The former first-round draft pick took the place of another rookie left-hander, Brent Leach, who was optioned to triple A. Leach gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings in his last six appearances. The four batters he faced Tuesday all reached base.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX
Comparing George Sherrill's numbers since 2007 with those of the other left-handers in the Dodgers' bullpen.
*--* Player IP H ER BB SO W-L SV ERA Sherrill 140.1 109 51 63 153 5-6 54 3.27 Leach 20.1 16 13 12 19 2-0 0 5.75 Kuo 117.1 100 48 39 128 7-7 1 3.68 Ohman* 107.1 105 52 46 93 7-5 3 4.36 *--*
Career batting average of left-handed hitters against each pitcher:
*--* Sherrill: .167 Leach: .256 Kuo: .221 Ohman: .204 *--*
*-currently on disabled list.