GM wants to pursue starting pitching

LOS ANGELES -- General manager Paul DePodesta believes the Los Angeles Dodgers did all they could to keep Adrian Beltre.

Their efforts proved fruitless.

So now, DePodesta said Thursday, he'll go hard at pursuing other options.

"I think the one good thing is we can move forward with a little bit of direction because it's not hanging over us whether we will get him or we won't," DePodesta said after learning Beltre had accepted a five-year, $64 million offer from the Seattle

"This is something that, as much as we didn't want it to happen, is something we had to prepare for," DePodesta said. "Now we can go forward with those plans."

DePodesta specifically mentioned starting pitching -- a Dodgers weakness last season despite the fact that they made the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

"There's certainly quite a few guys that we're interested in," DePodesta said.

And not just through free agency.

"We're still in conversations with a lot of different clubs about a lot of different possibilities," he said.

Beltre, 25, hit .334 with a big league-leading 48 homers and 121 RBI in a breakout season after six years in which he showed plenty of promise but little consistency with the Dodgers.

"We're disappointed. It hurts," DePodesta said. "Obviously, we would have loved to have him back."

The Dodgers gave themselves some protection last week, signing free agent Jeff Kent and saying that he could play third base, along with his usual spot at second.

"No, not necessarily," DePodesta said when asked if Kent would play third, adding there were other options available.

He didn't elaborate.

DePodesta wouldn't discuss specifics of the Dodgers' final offer to Beltre.

"We feel like we stepped up and made a very competitive offer, actually tried to make it a compelling one by offering a sixth guaranteed year," he said. "Unfortunately for us, Adrian decided to go elsewhere."

DePodesta said he didn't believe fans and Beltre's now-former teammates should get the wrong message from the fact that the star third baseman is leaving.

"I think the difference here is, we didn't let Adrian walk. Adrian chose to," DePodesta said. "Even if we offer more money in certain circumstances, it doesn't mean we're going to get the player. We're going to have a big payroll -- I think we're going to continue to have a competitive team. I'm not concerned about that message."

DePodesta also said Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was involved in the negotiations.

"Frank and I talked about it quite a bit over the last couple of days," he said. "He was certainly involved when we made our offer. We cleared it through him -- it was a pretty big number. He was involved in the process."

The Dodgers also learned Thursday that the Oakland Athletics had traded right-hander Tim Hudson to Atlanta for three players. DePodesta and A's GM Billy Beane talked trade at baseball's winter meetings last weekend.

"I knew over the last three or four days Atlanta was in the lead on this one," DePodesta said. "Billy and I hadn't spoken about it at all since early last weekend. It wasn't a situation where our talks broke down or anything like that. They already had
something on the table that would interest them more and that's the direction they headed."