The signing of relief pitcher Brian Wilson became official Saturday, but Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti isn’t done yet — and the annual winter meetings that begin Monday in Orlando could help him fill gaps at several positions.
In a conference call with reporters, Colletti said the team is talking with left-handed reliever J.P. Howell and third baseman Juan Uribe about coming back and indicated he’s reluctant to trade any of his four outfielders, including Matt Kemp.
“We’ve got to be careful,” Colletti said. “There’s a lack of impact outfielders that are going to become available in the very near future.”
The Dodgers signed Wilson to a one-year, $10 million deal that includes a player option for a second year, valued at $9 million to $10 million, depending on the number of games Wilson pitches next season.
Colletti said he expressed interest in bringing back Wilson as soon as the season ended but understood the right-hander wanted to explore interest from other teams. He said Wilson accepted the fact he would be a setup man to closer Kenley Jansen but added that he told Wilson the team would need more than one pitcher to pitch the ninth inning.
“If your bullpen is shaky, if you’re not sure or somebody gets hurt and you become unsure at the end of the game, I think it’s difficult to overcome in-season,” Colletti said. “You better have somebody in the wings who can do it, otherwise you’ll pay dearly if you have to go outside of the organization to find that type of player.”
Wilson, 31, gave up just one run in 24 games last season, including six postseason appearances, and had a 0.66 ERA after making his debut Aug. 22. His impact on the team’s bullpen was immediate.
“He brought some stability to it,” Colletti said. “He brought some veteran leadership. He’s one guy that’s been on the mound through a World Series, standing on the top of it when the third out’s recorded. I think that helped a lot of our guys grow a little bit. Having somebody like that is a plus.”
The Dodgers’ bullpen now consists of Jansen, Wilson, Chris Withrow, Brandon League and lefty Paco Rodriguez, who tired in September. Colletti said he still wants to add another right-hander and left-hander and perhaps a long man.
Speaking about Howell, a left-hander who had a 2.03 ERA in 67 games but is now a free agent, Colletti said, “I like what he brought to the club in all facets. We’ve had a lot of conversations with him, and I wouldn’t do that if we didn’t like the idea of having him back. Past that, I can’t tell you where it’s going to go.”
On third baseman Juan Uribe, a clubhouse favorite who hit .278 but reportedly wants a three-year deal: “We’ll see what the next week brings. We’ve had a lot of conversations early (but) it’s been a little bit quiet. We’re waiting to get a response back (on an offer).”
On the availability of Kemp, or any other outfielder (Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and likely untouchable Yasiel Puig): “People have called us on our outfielders. I can candidly tell you they’ve called us on all of them, and I said, ‘If you have an interest, tell me who the interest is in and tell me what the interest looks like.’ We’ve gotten a variety of responses to that, some pretty interesting, some kicking the tires and not of anything we’re going to consider going forward unless they have a change of heart.”