- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
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The Oakland Athletics engaged in serious negotiations with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday about pitcher Joe Blanton, a 26-year-old right-hander who would help fill in the injury-ravaged L.A. rotation if the deal is completed.
However, a baseball source who spoke with both sides told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Dodgers thought Oakland's asking price was too steep and moved on. Nevertheless, the teams are still talking, and there were indications Monday the deal wasn't totally dead.
The Dodgers are in a tie for the lead in the NL West, but have lost Jason Schmidt for the season, Randy Wolf has not pitched since July 3 and his return is iffy, Derek Lowe experienced hip irritation in his last start, and Brad Penny has a strained abdominal. Blanton would give the Dodgers exactly what they need now: He has an 8-7 record and a 3.69 ERA, and has developed a reputation as a workhorse -- he already has 153 2/3 innings this year, after throwing 201 1/3 innings in 2005 and 194 1/3 innings in 206.
L.A. is stocked with prospects, from third baseman Andy LaRoche and outfielders Andre Ethier (a former Oakland prospect who was traded for Milton Bradley) and Matt Kemp to left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Scott Elbert and right-hander Jonathan Meloan.
The Dodgers are believed to have initiated the discussions, and the two teams talked about a package of three frontline prospects for Blanton. They failed in their initial attempt to mix and match possible combinations, but there were indications talks could still be revived before the deadline. Blanton makes just $380,000 this year, and will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. Teams rarely trade young and cheap and established starting pitchers in the current market, which explains why Oakland has set a high price for Blanton.
Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine. Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.
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