Chad Billingsley is expected to be ready for spring training. (Tom Gannam / Associated…)
The Dodgers expect Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly to be ready for spring training, a team official said Tuesday, which could make the team an active participant in the trade market.
As the price of starting pitching soars -- Dan Haren agreed to a one-year, $13-million contract Tuesday to be the fourth starter for the Washington Nationals -- the Dodgers could dangle Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang as affordable alternatives.
Capuano is signed for $6 million next season and Harang for $7 million. The contract for each player includes a mutual option, so a team could acquire either one with no obligation beyond next season.
Billingsley sat out the final month of last season because of a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. He opted to try a rehabilitation program instead of committing to Tommy John surgery, and he is throwing without discomfort and at 94 mph. Billingsley is on a regular throwing program.
Lilly had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in September. He also is on a regular throwing program.
Although Billingsley and Lilly are coming off injury, the prospect that at least one could pitch next season would give the Dodgers a starting pitching surplus. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett atop their rotation, and they are expected to sign South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin by a Sunday deadline.
If they can sign Zack Greinke or Anibal Sanchez as a free agent, that would leave Billingsley, Lilly, Capuano and Harang available for the final spot in the rotation. The Dodgers are thin in pitching at the top of the minor leagues, so the availability of Billingsley and Lilly would enable the Dodgers to trade Capuano or Harang and retain the depth of seven potential starters.
The Dodgers are looking for a fourth outfielder who bats right-handed and has the ability to play center field. The Dodgers and Angels each could benefit from a trade of Capuano or Harang for Vernon Wells, provided the teams can resolve the discrepancy in their salaries.
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