Dodgers, Torre having conversations, but no deal in place

Updated: November 1, 2007, 1:34 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- General manager Ned Colletti acknowledged Wednesday he had spoken with Joe Torre about managing the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While Colletti insisted they had not agreed on a contract, he indicated the former New York Yankees manager was the leading candidate to replace Grady Little, who resigned on Tuesday.

"We've had some conversations with him very recently," Colletti said. "Certainly as you look at his resume and what he's done and the market he's done it in, you've certainly got to start there."

Having said that, Colletti was quick to point out that other candidates were also being considered.

"We're talking about a number of people," Colletti said. "We're crossing off names. It may be a very short list."

Teams are generally directed to interview at least one minority candidate for open managerial jobs, but the Dodgers were granted an exemption in this case by commissioner Bud Selig.

"The Dodgers have a great record on minority hiring throughout the organization," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.

By any reasonable gauge, Torre's name is at the top of the Dodgers' list. However, when asked whether the parties had discussed money and if they were close to a deal, Colletti retreated.

"We have interest," he said. "It may be mutual, that's really a question for the other side.

Experience on Resume

Grady Little has his share of wins in the regular season for his short managerial career, but Joe Torre (right) knows the playoffs.

Reg. season Win Pct..552.539
Playoff Seasons213
Playoff Win Pct..400.603

"I don't categorize anything as close, far. It's either done or it's not done. We're still trying to learn about each other. There's been some light discussions to try and get a feel. I'm not going to get into where the negotiations are. It's still early in the process in some ways."

Torre's agent, Maury Gostfrand, declined comment Wednesday.

Soon after Little resigned Tuesday, published reports said Torre and the Dodgers had already reached a deal, some claiming he had agreed in principle to a three-year contract worth $14.5 million.

"I've watched stuff in the last 72 hours that I can't believe I'm watching," Colletti said. "I can tell you we do not have an agreement. I've seen more inaccuracy than I can ever remember."

Still, it would be a surprise at this stage if Torre doesn't follow in the footsteps of Hall of Famers Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda in what would likely be the final chapter of his own Hall of Fame career.

Colletti acknowledged the buzz surrounding Torre might cause other potential candidates to decline to be interviewed.

"That's certainly a factor," Colletti said. "I believe it will play a role."

The 67-year-old Torre, who managed the Yankees to four World Series titles and 12 playoff appearances in 12 seasons, completed a $19.2 million, three-year contract this year. He ranks eighth on baseball's career list with 2,067 victories and has won a record 76 postseason games.

On Oct. 18, Torre rejected a $5 million, one-year offer from the Yankees with an additional $3 million in performance bonuses. He earned $7.5 million this season, by far the most of any manager.

Colletti said he sensed Little was leaning toward stepping down, so he began discussing the job recently with potential replacements. One of those candidates, the GM acknowledged, was Joe Girardi, hired by the Yankees as Torre's successor earlier Tuesday.

The Dodgers entered this season as the clear-cut favorite to win the NL West. They had the league's best record in mid-July, but lost 11 of their last 14 games to fade out of contention, finishing at 82-80.

Once one of baseball's glamour franchises, the Dodgers have struggled in recent years, failing to win a single playoff series since winning the 1988 World Series. In fact, they've won only one playoff game since winning their sixth Series championship.

Since Lasorda stepped down during the 1996 season after suffering a heart attack, the Dodgers are 1-9 in postseason action. The lone victory came three years ago, when they lost to St. Louis 3-1 in an NL division series.

The Dodgers won the NL wild card in 2006, Little's first year as their manager, but were swept by the New York Mets in the first round of the playoffs.

Torre and his former bench coach, Don Mattingly, have discussed the possibility of joining the Dodgers together, according to a person with knowledge of those talks. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the manager's position in Los Angeles was vacant.

"We don't have a coaching staff in mind, we haven't gotten there," Colletti said. "We've discussed it to some extent. I think whoever the manager is, there will have to be a comfort level on his part and my part."

Colletti said he hadn't spoken directly with potential managerial candidates other than Girardi and Torre personally, but added there have been conversations with others "in a secondary way, not directly, through other people."

"I'm not going to get into the numbers," he said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press