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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: L.A. CLOSES IN ON HUDSON.

Byline: Tony Jackson Staff Writer

ANAHEIM - It appears the Dodgers are very close to adding an ace to their rotation, as it was reported late Saturday night that the team is near a deal to acquire Tim Hudson from the Oakland A's.

The Dodgers have been discussing a trade to send top pitching prospect Edwin Jackson and minor-league infielder Antonio Perez to the A's, and it appears very close to being completed.

A's spokesman Jim Young told the Contra Costa Times he wasn't aware that any deal had been made, and Oakland GM Billy Beane, Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta's former employer, could not be reached.

But Hudson's agent, Paul Cohen, confirmed the trade, the newspaper reported.

Hudson, 29, will earn $6.5 million next season in what will be the final season of his contract. He was 92-39 with a 3.30 in six seasons with the A's, and 12-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 27 starts in his final season in the Bay Area. His 2004 season also was spent suffering through a strained left oblique, an injury that has plagued Hudson over the past three seasons.

The hard-throwing Jackson, a coveted 21-year-old right-hander, has gone 4-2 in 12 appearances (eight starts) in the majors. Perez hit .296 with 22 homers and 88 RBI at Triple-A Las Vegas last season.

Although prohibited by baseball's tampering rules from publicly mentioning Hudson's name, DePodesta said he continued Saturday to have discussions with Beane. DePodesta would not disclose the subject of those discussions, but the two were expected to meet again late Saturday night, and apparently that is when they struck the deal.

Both St. Louis and Baltimore are believed to be talking to the A's about Hudson, but Jackson is one of the game's top pitching prospects.

--Koskie still on the radar: DePodesta didn't flinch or blink. His jaw didn't drop to the floor.

Instead, when told of a widely-circulated Internet rumor that third baseman Adrian Beltre was seeking something in the neighborhood of a seven-year, $90 million contract on the free-agent market, the Dodgers general manager chuckled slightly, then lent the rumor what amounted to a touch of legitimacy - if not an out-and-out confirmation.

``That doesn't surprise me at all,'' DePodesta said.

If the truth lies in, or anywhere close to, those figures, it could have an adverse effect on the Dodgers' ability, and willingness, to re-sign Beltre. And with the club having a stated interest in free-agent third baseman Corey Koskie, formerly of Minnesota, DePodesta left open the possibility that negotiations with Beltre could reach a breaking point even before Beltre actually signs with another club.

The timing of negotiations with Koskie could become the key factor. The left-handed-hitting veteran reportedly has said he wants to know where he will be playing in 2005 by the time baseball's winter meetings conclude Monday. Koskie, who grew up in Anola, Manitoba, is believed to be close to a deal with Toronto. But if the Dodgers decide to make a last-minute push, they clearly have the resources to outbid the Blue Jays and still save a large chunk of what they would have paid Beltre.

``I still feel like there are a number of ways we could go,'' DePodesta said. ``If it feels like one of those options is about to disappear, then we may have a tough decision to make.''

DePodesta seemingly is trying to give himself enough leverage that he can withstand the potential loss of Beltre to another club, spend less money on another third baseman and still improve the overall quality of the team, partly with the money he saves.

--Perez update: Both DePodesta and manager Jim Tracy said they hope to retain left-hander Odalis Perez, a free agent whose market value probably increases each time an elite free-agent pitcher such as David Wells, who signed with Boston, or Russ Ortiz, who signed with Arizona, is taken off the market.

Tony Jackson,(818) 713-3675

tony.jackson(at)dailynews.com

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COREY KOSKIE

Dodgers' interest in the free-agent could complicate the pursuit of Adrian Beltre.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 12, 2004
Words:681
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