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Dodgers couldn't match up with Mariners in deal for ace Cliff Lee

July 9, 2010 |  6:05 pm
It screamed "bad match" and it played out that way.

Cliff Lee is a great pitcher and the Mariners obviously wanted -- and got -- a lot in return.

More than the Dodgers had available in prospects, and more than they could reasonably give up in major league talent for a pitcher they would essentially have for less than three months.

So on Friday Lee goes to the Texas Rangers, which at least keeps him out of the National League, for first baseman Justin Smoak, reliever Mark Lowe and three well-regarded minor league prospects.

The Dodgers were one of several teams to talk to Seattle. One source said the Mariners asked  for prospects plus James Loney, and when that was rejected, they inquired about Chad Billingsley.

Both proposals were turned down, and Seattle wouldn’t accept a package consisting only of players from the team’s depleted minor league system. There’s just not much there that’s close to major league-ready.

Lee would have given the Dodgers the ace they’ve needed all season, but he’s in the last year of his contract and set on testing the free-agent market. As much as the Dodgers may covet Lee, you don’t give up a Loney (26) or Billingsley (25) for a rental player.

Houston’s Roy Oswalt is the other ace available, but he has at least $25 million coming to him on his  contract. And currently the Astros want the other team to pick up almost the entire amount.

Right now, the Dodgers  probably are being forced to play a waiting game. Wait for the Astros to change the parameters of any potential deal, or for other clubs on the cusp of playoff contention to decide to become sellers.

 There are three weeks left for things to shake down before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

-- Steve Dilbeck