Is it deal or no deal for the Angels?

Times Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- The winter meetings used to be such sleepy affairs for the Angels under General Manager Bill Stoneman, who either had too few Disney dollars or too tight a grip on his prized prospects to make much of a splash at baseball’s December swap meet.

But if the first six weeks of the Reagins administration is any indication, the 2007 winter meetings, which start today at the Opryland Hotel, could be a little more eventful for the Angels.

In a span of three days in November, new GM Tony Reagins traded shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jon Garland and signed free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter to a five-year, $90-million contract.


And he might just be getting warmed up. The Angels have been in serious trade talks with Florida for slugger Miguel Cabrera. Owner Arte Moreno twice thought he had deals for Cabrera in November, only to have the trades fall apart because the Marlins increased their demands at the last minute.

They’ve also exchanged proposals with Baltimore for slugger Miguel Tejada, and they’ve expressed interest in Minnesota ace Johan Santana and Orioles ace Erik Bedard.

“I know those rumors are out there,” Reagins said. “All I can say is those players are under contract with other clubs, so I can’t speak to it.

“If an opportunity presents itself, we’ll take a look at it. We’re going to continue to pound the pavement. We’re going to the winter meetings, and we’ll see what that brings.”

Cabrera, who has averaged 31 homers and 115 runs batted in for the last four seasons, remains the Angels’ primary target, and any deal for the 24-year-old third baseman will have to include second baseman Howie Kendrick.

The teams also appear to have agreed on Angels catcher Jeff Mathis being included but have been unable to agree on the two pitchers in the deal.

Florida reportedly wants Ervin Santana and top prospect Nick Adenhart; the Angels prefer to deal Santana or Adenhart and a lesser prospect. The teams will use the winter meetings to try and find common ground.

There are indications that if the Marlins don’t get what they want, they’ll keep Cabrera, who won’t become a free agent until after 2009.

“I hate to speak to somebody else’s business, but you wonder if they really want to trade the player or if they absolutely, positively have to win the deal in such a one-sided fashion,” San Francisco GM Brian Sabean, who is also pursuing Cabrera, said during a conference call Thursday.

Tejada, 32, would cost less in talent, but the Orioles are believed to be seeking pitcher Jered Weaver and Brandon Wood, and Moreno seems very reluctant to trade Wood, a power-hitter prospect who could be the Angels’ shortstop in 2009. The Angels would prefer to trade Santana or Saunders and a lesser prospect.

If Cabrera is Plan A and Tejada Plan B, Johan Santana might be Plan 1A.

The Angels don’t really need another starting pitcher, but they didn’t really need a center fielder, either, and that didn’t stop them from signing Hunter.

The Angels are intrigued by the possibility of adding a 28-year-old left-hander they consider the best pitcher in baseball, even if they have to commit another $150 million over the next seven years in a contract extension to secure Santana, who is also being pursued by the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.

Hunter, the former Twins star, told Fox Sports Radio that he likes the Angels’ chances of landing Santana, who has a full no-trade clause and would probably cost the Angels a package that included Wood, Adenhart, shortstop Erick Aybar and possibly Ervin Santana or Saunders.

“I’m pretty sure his mind is wide open, because all he wants to do is win,” he said. “You know the Mets, Yankees and Angels are going to win, so I think out of those three, everybody has a chance . . . and the way the Angels have been going, they’ve been shocking everybody with Vladdy [Vladimir Guerrero], with me, so they can shock a lot of people.”