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For Dodgers, less is more in pursuit of Jon Lester

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

SAN DIEGO -- On the first full day of the Winter Mettings, most of the talk around baseball has to do with Jon Lester, the highly-coveted left-handed pitcher. But to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, Lester was a name he refused to mention.

Not because the Dodgers aren't involved in pursuing Lester, but rather Friedman prefers to play things close to the vest, not revealing the slightest hint to other teams.

"Teams not fully knowing and appreciating our plan, whether it's if we're in on some guys or not, is helpful. It's much more about the various conversations and how it funnels into how we construct our roster," Friedman said on Monday. "Telegraphing each step if harmful to us, in terms of other teams having that information."

Though the Lester sweepstakes was seemingly down just the Cubs and Giants, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox insist they are involved too. Boston manager John Farrell told reporters on Monday, "We'd love Jon to be back in a Red Sox uniform."

Giants general manager Brian Sabean was not shy about disclosing his team's pursuit of the left-hander.

Friedman, while not mentioning Lester by name, would acknowledge that the team needs to add at least one more starting pitcher.

"We definitely want to figure out how to add at least one more arm from the outside, whether that be via trade or free agency," Friedman revealed. "Adding one more then continuing to be aggressive to augment our depth is really important to us."

As expected, Friedman didn't show his hand when asked if the new starting pitcher would be added to the front of the rotation, or the back end.

"There are so many variables involved. I'll always say I want to add to the front," Lester said. "You always want that, It's just sifting through the various options and going through all the various effects."

Lester is expected to eclipse the six-year, $147 million contract signed by Zack Greinke with the Dodgers two years ago. The question is will he reach the average annual value of contracts signed by Felix Hernandez ($27.1 million per year with Mariners) or Justin Verlander ($28 million per season with Tigers)?

The one thing that was at least partially revelatory from Friedman was that, reading between the lines, the Dodgers don't necessarily need to make a move to clear salary — like say a trade of Matt Kemp, who is owed $107 million over the next five years, but more on that a bit later — to afford a big-ticket item like Lester, even though the team has $194.525 million committed to 17 players for 2015.

"You have to pay attention to all 25 guys and how everything relates to one another, but nothing would be contingent," Friedman explained. "We can make any kind of move and not have it tied to another move."