Angels' focus is on Teixeira
After quiet Meetings, GM Reagins exploring multiple avenues
LAS VEGAS -- The Angels departed the Winter Meetings without a deal for Mark Teixeira -- or anybody else -- while losing record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez, who joined the Mets for a three-year, $37 million contract and a vesting option that would take it to $51 million.
"We're keeping the lines of communication open," general manager Tony Reagins said in reference to Teixeira, who drew considerable interest at the Meetings via his agent, Scott Boras. "Mark's our main priority."
While they haven't revealed any specifics in terms of the limits of their pursuit of the brilliant first baseman who graced the Angels for the final three months of 2008, it is believed they'll have to get in the ballpark of the best known offer -- eight years, $160 million by the Nationals -- to make it happen.
Reagins said he has no timetable for signing Teixeira or moving on to other plans, but he knows it can't go on for too much longer with other issues riding on whether that major investment is made.
By not signing Rodriguez and with Jon Garland, Garret Anderson and Juan Rivera in the free-agent market, the club freed up about $36 million from last year's payroll.
If the time comes when the Angels cut their ties with Teixeira, they will look to other areas of needs -- notably in the offense and perhaps with a fifth starter and a closer.
Manny Ramirez is available in the Teixeira price range for fewer years. He'd certainly be the October weapon the Angels have been lacking, and he'd enliven the atmosphere immeasurably. But the club has given the appearance of being lukewarm, thus far, toward the superlative slugger.
The market for southpaw Brian Fuentes, a potential closer of interest, is "aggressive," Reagins said. Reports have the price reaching about $33 million across three years, with the Cardinals among the clubs apparently interested.
Chad Cordero, with strong closing credentials for the Nationals but coming off shoulder surgery, would be less costly and could be a good fit with Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo in the eighth and ninth innings.
The Angels never were actively involved in the CC Sabathia sweepstakes once the Yankees established how far and how high they would go for the big lefty. It's conceivable -- but a long shot -- that the Angels will figure out how to satisfy the Padres in a deal for their ace, Jake Peavy, who has four years and $63 million left on his contract. The Padres want young pitching and infielders, and the Angels have those commodities to spare if they can find the right ones for San Diego's taste.
If Teixeira departs, with the Red Sox, Orioles and possibly the Yankees in the bidding along with the Nationals, Kendry Morales figures to inherit first base. He's no Teixeira, but the Angels think he can be productive offensively and adequate with the glove.
Clearly, another big bat would be in order in Teixeira's absence. Raul Ibanez, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn are free agents with appeal. Ibanez -- averaging 24 homers and 105 RBIs the past four seasons and a .358 career hitter at Angel Stadium -- would seem to be the best fit. He's 37 and looking for three years in the $36 million range.
A trade could yield a power hitter, with the Cardinals' Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko of the White Sox, the Blue Jays' Alex Rios and Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer of the Twins among the intriguing possibilities.
Anderson and Rivera, men who have prioritized everyday jobs, remain possibilities to return to Anaheim.
Deals done: None.
Rule 5 activity: RHP Darren O'Day (Mets), RHP Robert Mosebach (Phillies) and RHP Miguel Gonzalez (Red Sox) were taken in the Major League phase of the Draft.
Goals accomplished: Groundwork was done on a number of potential deals involving free agents and potential trades that could yield offense, a fifth starter and a closer.
GM's bottom line: "Teixeira remains our main priority, but you still have to plan for different scenarios. We have a lot of balls we're juggling right now. We like our team, and we'll continue to explore ways to make it better." -- Reagins
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.