Angels’ willingness to discuss Erick Aybar could help team land Roy Halladay

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It is highly unlikely, but Angels General Manager Tony Reagins did not rule out the possibility of trading highly touted young shortstop Erick Aybar, an apparent philosophical shift that could put the Angels in the driver’s seat for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

It was widely reported in July that Aybar was the sticking point in the Angels’ trade talks with the Blue Jays about Halladay, the dominant right-hander who won the 2003 American League Cy Young Award. Toronto wanted Aybar badly; the Angels refused to part with him.


‘I never said Aybar was the sticking point in that deal,’ Reagins said today at the winter meetings. ‘He has tremendous value for us, but Brandon Wood can play shortstop and third base, and Maicer Izturis can play shortstop, third base and second base, so there’s some flexibility if we wanted to include any of those three guys in a trade.’

The Blue Jays are reportedly looking for a young starting pitcher, a young catcher and a shortstop in exchange for Halladay, who is owed $15.75 million in 2010, the last year of his contract, and they are believed to have targeted Angels left-hander Joe Saunders and catchers Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli.

Aybar, 25, emerged as one of baseball’s best young shortstops in 2009, hitting .312 with five homers, 23 doubles, nine triples and 58 runs batted in and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Would the Angels consider trading Aybar?

‘You have to be open-minded to a lot of opportunities, but it would have to be something that makes a lot of sense,’ Reagins said. ‘For some players, it would take a significant package to move them.

‘Erick is a very talented player, and we haven’t seen the best of him yet,’ Reagins said. ‘He’s still improving, still getting better, and there’s a real good chance we’ll see that as an Angel.’

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Indianapolis