Sources Say Epstein offered GM job

Sources say the Dodgers have offered their vacant general manager's position to former Boston GM Theo Epstein and that they had sweetened the deal by offering Epstein a small ownership stake similar to the one Billy Beane has in Oakland. Two sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Los Angeles Daily News they had heard through baseball's rumor mill that such an offer had been made.

However, it is not known if Epstein will accept. Epstein, 31, stepped away as the Red Sox's GM late last month, turning down a three-year, $4.5 million offer to stay. Those close to Epstein believe he will take time away from the game, and them become a candidate to take over as team president and general manager in Washington once the sale of the Nationals is complete.

Puzzlingly, Epstein doesn't seem to be much different that Paul DePodesta, whom McCourt fired as the Dodgers' GM on Oct. 29.

If Epstein declines the Dodgers offer to become the next GM, the job likely will go either to San Francisco assistant GM Ned Colletti or Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng.

Ng has been in the Dodger front office for the past four seasons and has an insider's knowledge of the team and the minor league system.

The question about Colletti is, would Frank McCourt hire a key member of the Dodgers' long-time rival as general manager? Many inside baseball say it would be a shrewd move.

Colletti, assistant GM of the San Francisco Giants the last nine years, is one of a small group of candidates the Dodgers have seriously considered since Paul DePodesta was fired 17 days ago.

His interview was impressive, according to one source, and it is assumed that McCourt would want a GM in place before departing for the owners' meetings Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Colletti, 50, has learned from Giant General Manager Brian Sabean's willingness to delegate authority. He negotiates most player contracts and for years was an effective liaison between the three elements of the organization: team owner Peter Magowan, Manager Dusty Baker (now Felipe Alou) and outfielder Barry Bonds.

If hired by the Dodgers, Colletti could lean on Ng, Roy Smith, Terry Collins and Logan White. Based on his comments in a 2003 interview with Baseball Prospectus, he values a traditional approach over statistical analysis.

"Statistics are part of what we take into consideration, along with scouting reports, and how someone uses their ability," Colletti said. "How a player approaches the game, how he approaches life, far outweighs what the stat line looks like."

The List Shrinks-- Texas Rangers executive John Hart has withdrawn as a candidate for the Los Angeles Dodgers' general manager's job. The 57-year-old Hart resigned as GM of the Rangers on Oct. 4. He had talked with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in early November. "I want to thank Frank McCourt for the opportunity to speak with him regarding his opening. I enjoyed speaking to him,'' Hart said. "However, I have indicated to Texas owner Tom Hicks my desire to remain with the Rangers. Therefore, I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the general manager's job with the Dodgers.'' Hart remains on the Texas payroll as senior adviser/baseball operations.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Former Dodger outfielder Brett Butler will manage the Lancaster team in the California League. Landcaster is in the Arizona farm system. …Assistant GM Roy Smith said the Dodgers are pleased with Milton Bradley's progress in his recovery from major knee surgery in September. But there is still the possibility that Bradley will not be ready to play on Opening Day, making his trade value minimal at this point. …The Dodgers used 20 rookies during the 2005 season, a major league high. …The Rockies made a two-year contract offer to reliever former Dodger reliever Elmer Dessens according to the Denver Post. The offer is believed to be worth $2.5 million plus incentives, though the Kansas City Royals are interested and may be able to go as high as $3 million. Nov. 3 Elmer Dessens declined his option for 2006 with the Dodgers and filed for free agency. …LHP Derek Thompson was re-signed by the Dodgers.