Angels deny reports of link to Santana
Team loses out on Cabrera, but says it hasn't discussed pitcher
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With Miguel Cabrera out of the picture, the Marlins having reached agreement to deal the young slugger to the Tigers, the Angels presumably turn now to Plans B, C and D.
In the event those plans don't materialize, they simply set about preparing for their 2008 American League West title defense with the formidable cast of characters they've already assembled for manager Mike Scioscia.
There were "new things" that caught the fancy of Angels general manager Tony Reagins on Tuesday here at the Winter Meetings, and while he wouldn't say what they were, he did say what they were not: conversations with the Minnesota Twins regarding Johan Santana.
While denying media reports that the Angels had joined the Red Sox and Yankees in the Santana sweepstakes, Reagins clearly owns the option of reconsidering and taking a run at a man many baseball people consider the game's premier pitcher.
"There are a lot of things out there being reported," Reagins said when asked about Minnesota's superstar pitcher, "but I don't see anything on the horizon.
"We haven't had any discussions with regard to adding starting pitching."
Reagins did speak with new Twins general manager Bill Smith on Monday, as the four-day Winter Meetings commenced, but he claimed Santana's name did not surface in the conversation.
"There are rumors out there, I know that," Reagins said. "I'm watching ESPN and seeing things reported. You wonder where that comes from sometimes."
If Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, a man the Angels pursued in 2006, is in their crosshairs, they hadn't made any moves on him as of Tuesday afternoon. Reagins said he'd had no conversations with Baltimore.
"We continue to look at opportunities," he said. "We've been speaking to clubs. Some interesting things have surfaced."
Something to keep in mind is that Reagins, successor to Bill Stoneman as Angels GM, already has shown the ability to move swiftly, out of nowhere -- and that he can be quick on the trigger finger when he has owner Arte Moreno's blessing.
Nobody had any clue that shortstop Orlando Cabrera was about to be shipped to the White Sox for starter Jon Garland before that deal went down on Nov. 19.
Just as stunning, maybe more so, was the Thanksgiving eve deal three days later, making Torii Hunter the Angels' new center fielder. Hunter said he never anticipated the team of his fondest desires coming after him until it happened, overnight.
"What I've learned in this position," said Reagins, a general manager for all of seven weeks, "is things can change quickly -- very quickly."
With those boldly unexpected moves in his first five weeks on the job so fresh in mind, it would be foolish to dismiss anything -- whether it concerns Santana, Tejada or anybody else still on the open market.
"Sometimes things happen in not very formal settings," Reagins said, having cooked up the Hunter deal during a casual meeting with the player's agent, Larry Reynolds, in a Southern California fast food joint. "Things can happen fairly quickly. Be prepared, see wherever it takes you.
"Sometimes when you think things are close, they aren't. Sometimes when you think they're far away, they happen quickly."
The Angels thought they were close to landing Cabrera twice, according to Moreno, only to have the Marlins hold out for a different arrangement of merchandise in exchange. They finally accepted a six-player package that also sends southpaw Dontrelle Willis, their ace, to the Motor City.
Reports of the Angels' interest in Santana surfaced on several New England newspaper Web sites on Tuesday, stoking what had become a typical Red Sox-Yankees bonfire over the services of the great lefty.
The Twins were reported to be holding out for premium young pitching in package deals for Santana, who is entering the final year of his contract and reportedly will seek a six-year contract and upward of $125 million on the open market after the 2008 season.
This is considered a significant stumbling block for any club unwilling to extend its budget. The Angels currently are at about $123 million with the signing of Hunter to a five-year, $90 million contract and the addition of Garland ($12 million) in the swap for Orlando Cabrera ($8 million).
While Moreno recently admitted he's gone over budget already, he also said he'd consider another home improvement if it made sense in the long haul.
"What I can say is, he's a good businessman," Reagins said. "With respect to anything, you have to consider the budget, the long-term impact economically -- not only economically, but baseball-wise.
"We try to look at the long-term projection, three, four years down the road, how things line up."
A move to Santana in the wake of Cabrera coming off the market would be consistent with the Angels' mission of focusing on pitching and defense.
Few clubs can match the Angels' surplus of talent in all areas, notably starting pitching and the outfield.
They could offer the Twins a package heavy in pitching, with the likes of Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders. Other possibilities, players who could fill Minnesota's most pressing needs, include promising shortstop/third baseman Brandon Wood and outfielder Reggie Willits, who could replace Hunter in center.
Minnesota has been focusing heavily on young pitching in its negotiations with the Red Sox and Yankees.
The arrival of Garland gives the Angels six starters; swapping two for Santana could give them the game's best rotation.
"We think our ballclub is deep. ... Not many teams have six starting pitchers," Reagins said. "The rotation as it is today is a solid rotation, and we're happy with it."
Of course, as we've seen, everything is subject to abrupt change.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.