Colletti $ays Price$ $imply too High

Dodger General Manager, searching for a solid bat for the middle of the outfield, has -- at least for now -- broken off talks with agents for Andrew Jones and Aaron Rowand. Such an acquisition would have allowed them an outfielder with which to make a trade, but that, too, will have to wait.

"We are nowhere close to a deal," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "I had the intention of making an offer [for Jones or Rowand], but as it stands, it would have been foolish to do so."

?Colletti continued, "I'm not sure how we would explore it from here when the distance is that great. Those explorations would probably have to come from the other side."

?And part of the other side is agent Steve Boras, who is peddling Jones and asking for a five-year, $90 million deal similar to the one center fielder Torii Hunter signed last week with the Angels. However, Jones is coming off his worst offensive season in a decade (.222, 26 home runs, his lowest total since 1997).

There is speculation that Jones could find the market weak with those numbers being bandied about and eventually settle for a shorter-term deal to put up better numbers and drive up his price for another run at free agency in a year or two.

?Free-agent center fielder, Aaron Rowand, seems beyond their price range. Rowand is apparently seeking a five-year deal worth about $70 million. Rowand had a breakout season last year, setting new personal highs in doubles, home runs, runs and runs batted in. Unless either Jones or Rowand find less interest than they are counting on and come up with a blue light special, the outfield in 2008 will be Andre Ethier, Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp. Manager Joe Torre will make the decision on moving Pierre to left.

Colletti is seriously interested in Japanese free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. The Dodgers and Mariners are believed to be the frontrunners for the 32-year-old right-hander, who would provide starting rotation depth with the dependability of Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza in question. Colletti confirmed he has made an offer.

"We're just waiting to see where they're at and what their thoughts are," he told Ken Gurnick of "They know we have sincere interest."

Sources said Dodgers made an offer of $20 million over three years. The Seattle Mariners are believed to have presented Kuroda with a four-year, $44-million proposal and the Arizona Diamondbacks are known to have made a three-year offer.

As it stands now, they third base job will be decided in a Spring Training competition between LaRoche and veteran Nomar Garciaparra. "Whoever steps up," Colletti said.

Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, told Colletti, that "Nomar just wants to know. When we know, if there's a change from a year ago, pass it on. But he's open-minded to help the club."

Colletti mentioned he still has interest in re-signing reliever Rudy Seanez, pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney and backup catcher Mike Lieberthal. He said he has not talked to David Wells.

Colletti acknowledged on the first night of the winter meetings that the Dodgers made an offer to Japanese free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Colletti didn't specify the terms of the offer, but a major league source The Seattle Mariners are believed to have presented Kuroda with a four-year, $44-million proposal and the Arizona Diamondbacks are known to have made a three-year offer.

The Dodgers aren't actively pursuing any other free-agent pitchers, but could turn their attention to right-hander Carlos Silva if their bid for Kuroda falls short. Colletti denied a report that the Dodgers made an inquiry to the Milwaukee Brewers about right-hander Ben Sheets. The Dodgers aren't interested in Japanese free-agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.

Potential trades the Dodgers are expected to explore this week are those with the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Joe Blanton or Dan Haren. The Dodgers have asked about Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Minnesota Twins left-hander Johan Santana and Baltimore Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard, but asking prices are too high to be considered.

The Dodgers are negotiating with closer Takashi Saito, who is out of contract but remains under the team's control, Colletti said.