Angels have plenty of bargaining chips
Surplus of pitching, infielders, outfielders likely means deal
ANAHEIM -- Having already displayed a willingness to take chances and make the big move, new Angels general manager Tony Reagins is positioned to deal for a much-discussed power hitter.
The question is how much he's willing to sacrifice for one of the elite-level names on the market such as Florida's Miguel Cabrera or Baltimore's Miguel Tejada.
With free agent Torii Hunter in the fold for five years and $90 million, the Angels already have upgraded their offense with a run-producer, while also adding a seven-time Rawlings Gold Glove center fielder.
They've also added a durable starter to the rotation in Jon Garland, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
The Angels obviously prefer to hold onto their premium young players, notably second baseman Howard Kendrick, shortstop/third baseman Brandon Wood and starting pitcher Nick Adenhart. But those are the names at the top of everyone's list in any trade talks, complicating Reagins' decision.
"If Opening Day started tomorrow," Reagins said on Thanksgiving eve while revealing the Hunter signing, "I'd be ready to go."
At the same time, Reagins said the Hunter acquisition would have no bearing on any further moves.
"We're still looking at our club to see if we can improve," Reagins said.
The arrival of Hunter, whose speed and power enable him to hit anywhere in the lineup, creates a surplus of outfielders and adds a trade chip or two.
Reggie Willits -- fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting -- moves one spot down on the depth chart with Gary Matthews Jr. penciled in as the swing outfielder/DH behind Hunter, Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero.
Juan Rivera, who missed almost the entire 2007 season recovering from a broken leg, also is capable of playing every day in the Majors, and Nathan Haynes was a quality role player in 2007.
What's more, the injection of Garland into the rotation gives the Angels a rare luxury: six capable starters. Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, expected to duel for the fifth slot, could factor into trade talks.
"Every club we talk to asks about pitching," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Angels have Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar set to share shortstop in 2008, with Wood trying to muscle his way into the picture with a big spring.
Wood, who will be 23 in March, and Adenhart, 21, have been the organization's top-rated prospects since Kendrick, 24, emerged as a regular in Anaheim, batting .322 in 2007 despite missing more than two months with two hand injuries.
Cabrera, an established star at 24, can play third base, first base or the outfield, while Tejada, 32, has been an All-Star shortstop in Oakland and Baltimore and can move to third if necessary.
It's up to Reagins and his staff to determine if the Angels can win it all as currently constituted, or if they need to make one more big move.
It is unknown how much financial flexibility they have with Hunter and Garland increasing the payroll by about $20 million, arbitration awaiting five players -- headlined by closer Francisco Rodriguez -- and Bartolo Colon taking $14 million off the books into free agency.
"Tony has the tools to do some things," Scioscia said. "If it doesn't happen, we're in a terrific position to contend again."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.