Dodgers bring in Sherrill, trade Vargas
Colletti shores up 'pen with moves before Trade Deadline
ATLANTA -- A year ago, he acquired Manny Ramirez, one tough act for anybody to follow.
By Friday's 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline, after saying he hoped to add a reliever, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti only subtracted one, dealing right-hander Claudio Vargas to Milwaukee for Minor League catcher/first baseman Vinny Rottino.
Vargas had been pitching well, but only in mopup roles, and his departure cleared an active roster spot for George Sherrill, the former Orioles All-Star closer who Colletti acquired Thursday for prospects Josh Bell and Steve Johnson.
Colletti said he had no contact Friday with Toronto about ace Roy Halladay. As for waiver deals in August, he speculated that the economy might make some high-priced players available when their teams pack it in who weren't available leading up to the Deadline.
Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
There is another deadline, Aug. 31, that is very important to contending teams, because players must be in the organization by midnight ET on that date to be eligible for postseason play.
Colletti said teams might be reluctant to put in claims to block trades, as in the past, because they don't want to be stuck with a contract. Whether the Dodgers would be willing or reluctant to pick up another contract remains to be seen.
"So many teams are still in the race -- it comes down to who clears waivers," he said. "It's tough to say what type of player it'll be."
One player the Dodgers tried hard to land on Friday, according to baseball sources, was Padres All-Star closer Heath Bell, but San Diego instead dealt Jake Peavy to the White Sox. Adding Bell to incumbent Jonathan Broxton and Sherrill would have given the Dodgers three All-Star closers (Bell and Broxton this year, Sherrill last year) in the same bullpen.
"I'm not going to get into who else we talked to or about," Colletti said. "We had more momentum today than any other day. The Deadline forces you to the maximum momentum."
While the acquisition of Sherrill clearly improved the bullpen's depth, Colletti was still left to answer whether his pitching is good enough to win.
"I guess we're going to find out," he said, an answer that manager Joe Torre repeated a few minutes later. "I believe in who we've got. Adding Sherrill is huge, in what he can do, in the mentality he brings. The bullpen was my main concern, because of its youth and its usage. We go to them a lot. And we've got [Ronald] Belisario and [Cory] Wade coming back and [Hong-Chih] Kuo back. You can't make starting pitching appear."
Colletti said he lets outsiders worry about whether the Dodgers are properly constructed for October.
"We have to get there first," he said. "I think about right here, right now. If October shows up and we're still playing, we'll figure it out then. Everybody says, 'You don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2,' but we've still won a lot of games.
"We still have a decent lead in the division and one of the best records in baseball, and we've done it with injuries to the pitching staff and we've played through it. Now we've got a guy who's pitched as a closer, who's tough-minded and he's left-handed. With Kuo and Wade and Belisario, I'll take my chances. If something comes along that makes sense, we'll take a shot."
Torre, after speaking with Sherrill, said he wasn't concerned that the presence of two closers (Broxton is the incumbent) would be a problem.
"Broxton, if you were to define roles, he's the closer," said Torre. "If, for some reason, a team is slanted left-handed, we may do something [using Sherrill]. More than anything, this will keep the workload from being overwhelming. Neither closer has the ego that dictates they need to be the one."
Torre said he would not use Sherrill for more than one inning an appearance.
Vargas, 31, opened the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury and was activated July 3. In eight appearances, he had a 1.64 ERA and was clocked with a fastball as high as 93 mph. He pitched for the Brewers in 2007.
Rottino, 29, has appeared briefly in the Major Leagues for Milwaukee in each of the past three seasons and was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team last season, when he posted a 24-game hitting streak. He was hitting .249 with four homers and 48 RBIs for Double-A Huntsville.
The move opened a spot on the Dodgers' 25-man roster for Sherrill, who was activated for Friday night's game with the Braves.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.