Teixeira decision to set Angels' course
Quick resolution will help Halos determine payroll usage
ANAHEIM -- The focus for the Angels in free agency has been on first baseman Mark Teixeira, but there are other important puzzle pieces to ponder as the front office tries to fit together its 2009 club.The Angels have exclusive negotiating rights to Teixeira and five other free agents -- Garret Anderson, Francisco Rodriguez, Jon Garland, Darren Oliver and Juan Rivera -- until Nov. 14. Until then, other clubs can speak to these players in generalities without exploring contract terms. Rarely have the Angels, American League West champions four of the past five seasons, entered a winter with so many personnel issues to resolve and so many problems to solve.
All six of their free agents helped drive the Angels to their Major League-leading, franchise-best 100-win season. Teixeira and Rodriguez figure to be the most intensely pursued, but Anderson, Garland, Oliver and Rivera also should have appeal.Teixeira -- acquired from Atlanta on July 29 at the cost of Casey Kotchman and prospect Steve Marek -- is represented by Scott Boras, who is believed to be seeking a deal of at least six seasons at about $20 million per year. Boras puts the 28-year-old slugger in the exclusive class of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez as "players who pay for themselves" through various revenues they generate.
"We think very highly of Mark and have made him a high priority," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said at the General Managers Meetings in Dana Point, Calif., last week.Boras said the two sides have met and know where each other stand, but the agent has a history of carrying such negotiations out for weeks, sometimes months. Reagins said "it is possible but unlikely" the club would have the resources to sign two high-end free agents. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett lead a collection of starting pitchers who are highly sought. The Angels, naturally, favor a quick resolution with Teixeira that would enable them to move on to other matters knowing whether a significant chunk of their payroll will be devoted to their first baseman. "We will need offense," Reagins said when asked about the impact of not retaining Teixeira.
The club's fallback plan at first base includes Kendry Morales, a switch-hitter who has shown potential the past two seasons but has not played regularly at the Major League level.
K-Rod, coming off a record 62-save season, also could have a relatively long wait before signing given how many teams -- at least a half-dozen, headed by the Mets -- are in the market for a closer.If they don't bring their closer of the past four seasons back, the Angels have in-house options, Reagins said, in veteran Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo, who had an impressive rookie season in 2008. Another possibility has emerged in veteran right-hander Chad Cordero, who became a free agent after having shoulder surgery while in the employ of the Nationals. According to a baseball source, the Angels, Mets, Rangers and Tigers are interested in Cordero, and each club has asked to look at his medical records. Cordero missed most of the 2008 season because of a labrum tear in his right shoulder. He had surgery on July 8 and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Cordero visited Dr. Lewis Yocum for a checkup last week and is expected to start throwing in a week. Cordero's first choice reportedly would be the Angels. He is from Anaheim and grew up an Angels fan. Cordero also wouldn't be averse to a reunion with Mets general manager Omar Minaya, who drafted him in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft when he was with the Expos. Anderson, the most productive offensive player in Angels history, is exploring the market for the first time. Reagins said the Angels have interest in Anderson as well as Garland, Rivera and Oliver.
The club has a projected $125 million budget. Owner Arte Moreno has made it clear he doesn't plan to exceed by significant measure the club's $119.2 million payroll entering the 2007 season.
Not bringing back Anderson ($12.6 million), Garland ($12 million), K-Rod ($10 million), Rivera ($2.025 million) and Oliver ($2 million) along with Kotchman's detached $1.45 million would trim the 2007 payroll by $40 million.If Garland, acquired from the White Sox last winter for shortstop Orlando Cabrera, doesn't return, Reagins said he would be comfortable if necessary throwing the fifth starter's job open to competition. Right-handers Dustin Moseley, Nick Adenhart, Shane Loux and Anthony Ortega would be the leading candidates.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.