Angels in no hurry to deal
Big bat -- possibly via the Bronx -- remains top target
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Winter Meetings opened here Monday but the Angels appeared to express no sense of urgency.
General manager Bill Stoneman arrived late in the afternoon to the Swan and Dolphin Resort and did not meet with reporters, saving his first day to continue discussions with other clubs.
But that did not prevent a couple of reliable rumors to re-surface and one of those included the New York Yankees, according to an industry source. The Angels reportedly remain interested in third baseman Alex Rodriguez, a player that would satisfy a host of goals for the club this offseason.
The Angels identified a power bat as their No. 1 priority while looking to fill holes at third base, first base and center field. Gary Matthews signed a five-year, $50 million deal last month to take over in center but he doesn't quite satisfy the power prerequisite.
Rodriguez certainly would, but any deal could be complicated and would also command a high price tag in trade. The Yankees have expressed interest in both Ervin Santana and Scot Shields, two players that Stoneman has all but refused to trade. A deal for Rodriguez, though, would probably require yet another player, possibly Chone Figgins.
Another major snag to a deal is the Yankees themselves. General manager Brian Cashman has given no indications that he's ready to trade the two-time MVP, and Rodriguez, who has a full no-trade clause, has said he wants to remain in New York.
"It's a large list of teams that checked in on him at the very beginning of the process," Cashman said. "I still get some stragglers that just want to keep their foot in the door, just in case something changes."
Also seeing the light of day again, but losing considerable steam at least when linked with the Angels, was the seemingly imminent departure from Boston of Manny Ramirez. California remains a possibility but Anaheim has fallen behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco as potential destinations.
On the block? One player that could sweeten the deal for Rodriguez is Bartolo Colon. A baseball source said the Angels have begun to shop him around.
To avoid gutting a significant portion of the ballclub by jettisoning several young players, the Angels would need to propose a near-to-even-swap and Colon certainly qualifies. The right-hander won the American League Cy Young Award in 2005 and has notched 140 wins over his 10-year career. He has also logged more than 200 innings in seven of those seasons.
The main stumbling block with Colon, however, is his health. The 33-year-old right-hander is rehabbing from a partially torn rotator cuff and has yet to begin a throwing regimen. That probably won't occur until January, which puts any potential deal on hold.
Overheard: If the potential deal for Rodriguez falls through or is simply unworkable, another solution could be in the works and a little closer to home.
A rumor circulated Monday that had Diamondbacks corner infielder Chad Tracy coming to Anaheim for a pitcher, possible Joe Saunders. Arizona just made a deal for Doug Davis but is in need of pitching and could be interested in adding another left-hander to its rotation.
The Angels' desire to add a first and a third baseman remains and Tracy has some power, but there are some downsides.
For starters, Tracy will make $13.25 million over the next three years with a $7 million option for 2010, while Saunders made a prorated league minimum last season and is three years from arbitration. Tracy also saw his homers dip from 27 in 2005 to 20 last season even though his at-bats increased by 94.
A more troubling statistic, though, is a .935 fielding percentage that included 25 errors at third base last season. Tracy also committed 25 errors and posted a .935 fielding percentage in 2004, the other year that he played the position on a regular basis. But Tracy can also play first base and DH. In 2005, Tracy appeared in 80 games at first and committed just three errors.
Saunders' stock is on the rise, though. He went 10-4 in 21 appearances at Triple-A Salt Lake and then posted a 7-3 mark in 13 starts with the Angels. If the club were to move Colon and did not land another starter either by trade or free agency, Saunders would likely be needed for the rotation.
Familiar faces: Former Angels backstop Bengie Molina has agreed to a three-year deal with the Giants, according to Yahoo.com. The contract is pending a physical. ... ESPN.com reported the Devil Rays have expressed interest in Darin Erstad.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.