No Vegas vacation for Angels GM
Uncertainty around Teixeira, K-Rod will make Meetings busy for Reagins
ANAHEIM -- General manager Tony Reagins will need multiple cell phones for the Winter Meetings.The Angels' GM figures to be among the busiest tourists in Las Vegas from Monday through Thursday, handling calls from agents and fellow GMs with a glut of crucial personnel decisions hanging in the balance.
First and foremost are the free agents, notably Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez. Two of the biggest prizes in the market, Teixeira and K-Rod are being measured for future employment by a variety of clubs from coast to coast.For Reagins and the Angels' brass, the task is moving forward with roster-shaping decisions while assessing where they stand with the talented first baseman and the record-smashing closer. Club owner Arte Moreno, in a radio interview, generated considerable talk by expressing admiration for another free agent -- Manny Ramirez -- while indicating the Angels were no longer confident in signing K-Rod after he spurned six previous proposals for a long-term deal. CC Sabathia, who drew a reported six-year, $140 million offer from the Yankees, also has been associated with the Angels in various reports, although they have made no concrete offer to the durable and gifted left-handed starter. The Angels have four other free agents: Garret Anderson, Darren Oliver, Jon Garland and Juan Rivera. If Teixeira signs elsewhere -- the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals are considered prime contenders -- the Angels would need to upgrade offensively. Kendry Morales is considered the leading candidate to assume first base if Teixeira departs. The franchise leader in most of the important offensive categories, Anderson had another solid season in 2008, ranking behind only Vladimir Guerrero as the club's top RBI man. Rivera, a force in '06 before breaking a leg, showed power in fairly limited opportunities. If the Angels elect not to pursue Anderson or Rivera, prominent free-agent hitters beyond Ramirez who could hold interest include Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu and Casey Blake. In-house candidates to play left include Gary Matthews Jr., Reggie Willits and Robb Quinlan. Matthews, recovering from offseason knee surgery, is not expected to be ready to play until at least a month into the season. Versatile Chone Figgins could be moved from third base to left if Brandon Wood or Matt Brown can break through with a big spring. If Ramirez, the wild card of wild cards, falls into the Angels' price range, they might consider rolling the dice on the man whose career numbers and postseason resume are dazzling, his personal baggage notwithstanding. While Reagins has pinpointed Teixeira and offense as main priorities, the Angels will have holes to plug in the pitching staff if K-Rod and Garland depart. They could promote from within or go outside for proven merchandise. The market is rich in closers, headed by K-Rod, all-time saves king Trevor Hoffman, Kerry Wood and southpaw Brian Fuentes. Chad Cordero, coming off shoulder surgery, has ninth-inning experience and has expressed a desire to return home to Anaheim. Veteran lefty Arthur Rhodes would be an interesting fit, injecting a power left-handed arm into the bullpen. Another way to replace K-Rod is with in-house setup artists Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo, who could share the closer role. Kelvim Escobar looms as the X factor coming off labrum surgery, with his return is projected for midseason. While he has enjoyed great success as recently as 2007 as a starter, Escobar closed for two years in Toronto and has the stuff and makeup to handle the role capably. As for the rotation opening, assuming Garland departs, the big name making the rounds has been Padres ace Jake Peavy. But the Angels have made no public expression of interest, preferring to see if they can add a starter through free agency. Among many candidates, Randy Wolf could be appealing. A Type B free agent, the 32-year-old southpaw made 33 starts in 2008, dividing time between San Diego and Houston while going 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA. With so many free agent issues to be decided, starting with Teixeira, Sabathia, Ramirez and K-Rod at the top, it is unclear how active the trade market will be the city that never sleeps. The Angels, should they elect to move on a bat or an arm, have resources in demand. They are rich in infielders and in young, developing pitchers -- always prime targets for clubs looking to unload proven talent with high price tags. It is clearly a long shot, but the Tigers reportedly would consider moving Magglio Ordonez, one of the game's premier hitters. In return, the Angels could fill multiple needs for Detroit. The Twins, with outfielders Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer holding appeal, are looking for help on the left side of the infield. The Orioles are desperate for a shortstop, and the Angels have great depth there with Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar, Wood and Sean Rodriguez. Baltimore has several intriguing players it can shop, including a proven southpaw closer in George Sherrill and two outfielders, Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott, who can hit. The White Sox, looking for speed and defense, might part with outfielder Jermaine Dye or first baseman Paul Konerko, both established run producers. The Indians could detach power-hitting first baseman Ryan Garko or outfielder Ben Francisco to fill needs in the infield or on the pitching staff. The Cardinals could be natural trade partners with the Angels. St. Louis needs middle infielders and pitching, and has outfielders Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Skip Shumaker, along with a third baseman named Troy Glaus, as potential chips to deal. Needless to say, the return of Glaus, the 2002 World Series MVP, would be as popular as the arrival of Mr. Claus on Christmas Eve to many Angels fans.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.