Torii Hunter confident Angels will sign Carl Crawford; team met with star in Houston

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Torii Hunter has kept in touch with Carl Crawford throughout the free-agent process, and the Angels outfielder seemed very confident Wednesday that Crawford, the dynamic left fielder who is considered the best position player on the market this winter, will wind up in Anaheim.

The Crawford-to-Anaheim train seemed to gather steam this week at the winter meetings, where just about any executive or scout you talk to in the lobby of the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort has said he expects Crawford to sign with the Angels.


[UPDATED, 10:10 p.m.: Crawford has agreed to a six-year deal worth $142 million with the Boston Red Sox.]

‘I think the process is just about done, and hopefully we can land him this week,’ Hunter, a longtime friend of Crawford who has been lobbying the Angels to sign the star since July, said by phone from his home in Texas. ‘The Angels are really trying. I know that for a fact.’

The New York Yankees also are interested in Crawford, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman reportedly had dinner with Crawford in the Orlando area Tuesday night. The Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers are also reportedly in on Crawford.

Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said Wednesday that he has not had any ‘face-to-face’ meetings with players here, and his plan Wednesday night was to have dinner with members of the organization’s double-A Arkansas affiliate.

But the Angels sent a contingent that is believed to have included owner Arte Moreno and Reagins to Houston in November to meet with Crawford, according to a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of negotiations.

Hunter was not sure if the Angels had met face-to-face with Crawford, and Reagins declined comment about a possible meeting. Moreno was in Orlando this week for a Major League Baseball committee meeting, though he did not stay at the winter meetings hotel, and it was not known whether he met with Crawford or the player’s representatives here. Moreno returned to his Arizona home Tuesday evening.


The Angels have also expressed serious interest in third baseman Adrian Beltre and some interest in closer Rafael Soriano. Reagins downplayed rumors that the Angels were ‘in the chase’ for pitcher Cliff Lee.

Though Reagins said a few free-agent and trade options have been ‘scratched off our list,’ he said the Angels remain in play for ‘big-splash’ free agents such as Crawford, Beltre and Soriano. Crawford could command a deal that exceeds the seven-year, $126-million contract that Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

‘We’re looking at those opportunities,’ Reagins said. ‘Nothing has been eliminated.’

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.