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Dodgers Looking, Not Finding

With a week before the trade deadline and the back end of the starting rotation taking on water, the Dodgers are not close on any transaction as they prepare for the weekend showdown series in San Francisco. The front office would move Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford to open a spot for top prospect Joc Peterson, but all three have huge contracts. Most trade partners want Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias, but management has resisted all inquiries for the system’s few jewels so far. The stalemate could drag into August, when more clubs become sellers and supply balances with demand. — Ken Gurnick

ESPN Links Dodgers and Papelbon

ESPN cited an unnamed baseball source that expects the Dodgers to pursue Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. If true, the Dodgers would be absorbing as much as $30 million in salary for the remainder of this year, next year’s guarantee and a vesting option for 2016. The Dodgers already have a closer in Kenley Jansen, but have indicated they would like to add another set-up reliever. The Phillies are eager to unload salary and the deep-pocketed Dodgers have quickly become the go-to club for salary dumps. The Dodgers, however, have no interest in trading top prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias. The ideal trade for the Dodgers would include moving one of their high-priced outfielders — Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier. — Ken Gurnick

Colletti Won’t ‘Tear Apart’ Farm System for Elite Pitcher

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he doesn’t expect to be acquiring an “elite” pitcher (in other words, David Price) because the cost would be multiple top prospects and “I don’t see us doing anything to tear apart our farm system.” The Dodgers top prospects are outfielder Joc Pederson, infielder Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.

Colletti did say he’s on the lookout for pitching, as he is at the trade deadline every year. He has previously mentioned being in search of relief help, but acknowledged that the club needs “to be careful” with pitching in general. In recent weeks, starter Josh Beckett has gone on the disabled list with a hip impingement and Dan Haren has been inconsistent.  — Ken Gurnick

Crawford Could Make for a Crowd

Carl Crawford begins a rehab assignment Saturday night at Triple-A Albuquerque for a sprained ankle that put him on the shelf for six weeks. His estimated return around the All-Star break will again create an outfielder surplus and maybe this time management will finally move one of them. Prior to his injury, the clubhouse chemistry was sour when Crawford and Matt Kemp had to share playing time. The Red Sox, among others, have been following the Dodgers closely and have long had interest in Andre Ethier, whose bat finally showed signs of life in the last week. Whether it be Ethier, Crawford or Kemp, each has a huge contract. The Dodgers would either be forced to eat part, or pick up somebody else’s huge contract. GM Ned Colletti has said bolstering the bullpen is the immediate focus. — Ken Gurnick

Jamey Wright on Dodgers Radar

If the Dodgers add a long reliever, as general manager Ned Colletti recently said is a possibility, the primary candidate is familiar face Jamey Wright, who served in the role nicely in 2012. Wright, 39 this month, went 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 66 appearances for the Dodgers in 2012. But they didn’t bring him back in 2013, when he signed another Minor League contract and had an even better season for Tampa Bay (2-2, 3.09, 66 appearances). He also reached the post-season for the first time in an 18-year career. After re-signing Brian Wilson to set up last week, Colletti said he was still looking for right-handed and left-handed middle relievers, and possibly a long reliever. — Ken Gurnick

Hanley the Prankster?

What a comic, that Hanley Ramirez. He posted an Instagram photo sitting in a plane with a caption “To Los Angeles .. Good news!!!” and the twittersphere concluded a contract extension was imminent.

Not exactly.

One of his agents said Hanley was “messing around” with the posting and actually was on a flight to the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Dodgers officials arrive this weekend in Orlando for the Winter Meetings. A Ramirez extension is on the club’s off-season to-do list, but nothing appears imminent. — Ken Gurnick

Dodgers Lose Herrera to Brewers

Utilityman Elian Herrera was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee. The Dodgers view Dee Gordon as a utilityman candidate with better skills. Gordon is playing outfield in winter ball. — Ken Gurnick

Dodgers Wait on Wallach

Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach gets a second interview for the Mariners manager job. He’s also a candidate for Dodgers bench coach, so the Dodgers probably won’t finalize their coaching staff  until Seattle’s manager job is filled. — Ken Gurnick

Marmol a Low-Risk Deal for Dodgers

On the surface, the Carlos Marmol for Matt Guerrier deal looks like a “my problem for your problem” salary swap, but the Dodgers are convinced they got something for almost nothing. They had already given up on Guerrier. They are hopeful of salvaging Marmol as at least a veteran middle reliever, maybe more if they can work out an arm slot flaw during an Arizona mechanics rehab. A fresh start won’t hurt either, the team believes, considering the heat he was taking from fans in Chicago. And even if he’s a complete bust, the Dodgers picked up $209,700 in international signing cap room, an area where they suddenly have more money to spend than rules will allow after a decade of neglect. The $500,000 additional salary they’ve taken on is chump change compared to the hundreds of millions they picked up last year. — Ken Gurnick

Marmol, Guerrier Swap Close

The Dodgers and Cubs are closing in on a deal that would swap DFA’d relievers Carlos Marmol and Matt Guerrier. The trade also could include a swap of draft choices. — Ken Gurnick

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