Rumor du jour: Helton to Angels
But like other Halos chatter at Winter Meetings, it quickly dies
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The search for a bat and a corner infielder continued in earnest Wednesday as the Angels targeted Todd Helton in a potential trade.
But a number of factors -- Helton's age, health and the size of his contract -- effectively killed the deal. A Rockies official confirmed both sides talked but did not exchange names. A report on the Los Angeles Times Web site, however, said the Angels offered first baseman Casey Kotchman, super utility player Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar.
Helton has $85.5 million left on the nine-year, $141.5 million deal that he signed in 2003. That contract includes a $23 million option for 2012 with a $4.6 million buyout and Helton also has an out clause to become a free agent at the end of the 2007 season. Colorado would likely pick up a portion of Helton's contract in any trade.
The Angels have been seeking a productive bat, though, and Helton's numbers over his 10-year career have been impressive. A lifetime .333 hitter, Helton has averaged better than 28 home runs and virtually 100 RBIs a season as a first baseman with the Rockies.
But his last two years have been plagued by back problems and an intestinal illness, which impacted his numbers. The 33-year-old Helton hit 20 homers in 2005 and just 15 last season while driving in 79 and then 81 runs.
Unwanted: The biggest name in baseball made his presence felt at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, but few teams are stepping up to the plate, so to speak.
The free-agent slugger and heir apparent to the home run crown, aka Barry Bonds, garnered attention but little in the form of job offers. The Giants have one on the table while the Padres apparently showed some interest, but there is one team that clearly will not.
That would be the Angels, as general manager Bill Stoneman answered with a definitive "no" when asked if he was going to make a run at the embattled star.
Bonds would satisfy his team's need for power and wouldn't be all that expensive, in a relative sense. A one-year contract in the neighborhood of $18 million with a vesting option for a second year would probably do it. Bonds not only wants to break Hank Aaron's home run mark of 755 but he'd like to reach 3,000 career hits -- he remains 159 shy.
If he reaches either of those goals, though, it will not be with the Angels.
Group effort: Absent a new third baseman, the Angels will enter Spring Training with a quartet of Figgins, Dallas McPherson, Robb Quinlan and Maicer Izturis fighting for the job. If no player wins the job outright, manager Mike Scioscia said he would be comfortable employing a similar platoon as last season.
"If there's one guy that can step up and play it every day and do the job, then that's great," he said. "If it's going to take some kind of a combination to get that position covered, then that's what we'll do. I think that Chone Figgins has shown he can play on the defensive end at a very high level. And Dallas, the question mark with his health is probably the biggest issue because he showed the potential he has in his bat. And Q and Izzy, I'm real comfortable with that position that somebody is going to give us what we need."
Dead end: As promising as the deal for Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche looked on paper when Kotchman and Figgins were included, the Angels quickly lost interest when Atlanta began asking for Scot Shields instead.
Buoyed by an offer from the Pirates that included left-hander Mike Gonzalez, who was perfect in his 24 save opportunities last season, the Braves shifted their attention to Shields and the Angels shifted their attention elsewhere.
Sticker shock: The Angels made what they felt was a strong run at Alfonso Soriano, making a reported $115 million offer, before losing out to the Cubs, who signed the outfielder for a whopping $136 million over eight years.
Stoneman said the Angels were priced out of the market about as quickly as they weighed in on Soriano, but he added that the free agent appeared set on remaining in the National League.
Bad info: The worst rumor heard Wednesday was an even swap that would have sent John Lackey to the White Sox for third baseman Joe Crede.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.