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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Winter meetings shopping list: Starting pitcher(s)

By Mark Saxon

The Dodgers are still mapping out their strategy for fortifying their starting rotation and, according to a source, have not made offers to any free agent pitchers yet. They'll likely begin that process next week in face-to-face meetings at the winter meetings.

It's likely the Dodgers will add two starting pitchers, since Ted Lilly might not pitch next season due to a shoulder injury and Chad Billingsley is a major question mark coming off two stints on the disabled list with elbow pain.

But who are the likeliest names to pitch at Dodger Stadium in 2013?

Reports of the Dodgers' interest in Zack Greinke may have been slightly exaggerated. Greinke's 6.48 post-season ERA is a bit of a concern and his reclusive personality may not set the right tone for a team that lacks post-season experience. Greinke's overall resume, however, might fit the bill of what the Dodgers are looking for -- a No. 2 starter -- better than some of the other available pitchers.

It might come down to whether the Dodgers are willing to take on the risk of what might prove to be a record contract for a right-handed pitcher.

They have inquired about Kyle Lohse, a source confirmed. Lohse had the best 2012 ERA of any of the free agent starters (2.86) and relies on a sinker rather than a hard, four-seam fastball, so age shouldn't be a major concern. At 34, he wouldn't command the six-year deal it might take to land Greinke or even Anibal Sanchez and he answered some questions by going 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four post-season starts last month.

It appears the Dodgers' strategy will be to try to land one of the established major leaguers (perhaps Greinke or Lohse) some time during the winter meetings, then turn their attention to serious negotiations with agent Scott Boras to sign Korean left-handed Ryu Hyun-jin. They have until Dec. 10 to get a deal done or Ryu would return to pitch in his native Korea. Thus far, the Dodgers have had only preliminary discussions with Boras about Ryu.

Before the 2009 season, Derek Lowe signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, which might prove a good starting point for the Lohse negotiations since they're both veteran sinkerballers. Ryu won't get a deal that approximates Yu Darvish's six-year, $56 million contract with the Texas Ranges. For argument's sake, let's say it takes $25 million to keep him in America.

The Dodgers could still get two starting pitchers for less than two-thirds of what it would cost to sign one, Greinke. Don't be surprised if that's the route they take in the coming weeks.