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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A big trade rumor flared and died quickly as multiple sources said the Los Angeles Dodgers were actively involved in discussions to acquire Milwaukee Brewers slugging first baseman Prince Fielder, only to have a high-ranking Dodgers source say later Monday that there was nothing to it.The initial sources said that the Dodgers would ship first baseman James Loney and embattled closer Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers for Fielder, who is in the last year of his contract.
Fielder, 26, has averaged 40 home runs over the past four seasons -- a dozen more than any player hit for the Dodgers in 2010 -- and 111 RBIs. He led the National League with 141 RBIs in 2009. He also has a career on-base percentage of .385 and led the NL with 114 walks in 2010.
The Dodgers have been reluctant to move Loney, primarily because there is no other everyday first baseman in the organization who is close to being ready for the majors. Loney also is a potential Gold Glove winner defensively, but the knock against Loney has always been that he doesn't hit for the power the front office and coaching staff have long believed him to be capable of producing.
The Chicago Cubs have also expressed interest in Loney, according to ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine.
Broxton is coming off a miserable season in which he actually lost the closer's job in early August after an extended bout with ineffectiveness. Both general manager Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly have said publicly this winter that they plan to enter 2011 with Broxton as the closer, albeit presumably with a short leash.
Trading Broxton would leave Hong-Chih Kuo as the only other candidate to take over the closer's role, but because of his history of arm problems, he has to be used sparingly and probably isn't a viable option as a season-long closer. However, the Dodgers also appear close to re-signing Vicente Padilla despite the fact they already have five established starters. Padilla could become a candidate to take over the closer's role if Broxton is traded, according to multiple sources.
Fielder is in his final winter of arbitration-eligibility before potentially becoming a free agent after the 2011 season. He made $10.5 million in 2010, the final season of a two-year, $18-million deal he signed with the Brewers in January 2009. He probably stands to get between $15 million and $20 million this season.Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine was used in this article.