Tony Reagins checked out of the Bellagio without a deal for slugger Mark Teixeira, without a starter to fill out the rotation or a clear-cut closer, and without three triple-A pitchers who were plucked from the team’s farm system in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.
But the Angels’ general manager left baseball’s winter meetings feeling as confident about his chances of re-signing Teixeira as when he came, and with an attractive rotation candidate: San Diego ace Jake Peavy.
A potential three-way deal that would have sent Peavy to the Chicago Cubs collapsed Thursday morning, with the Cubs telling Padres GM Kevin Towers they were “moving on.”
The Angels reiterated their interest in Peavy during the meetings, and next week they are expected to rekindle trade talks for the right-hander that began in November.
Peavy, who has four years and $63 million left on his contract and a full no-trade clause, has “a strong preference to remain in the National League,” agent Barry Axelrod said.
“Jake is comfortable there. He’s been successful there. And he’s a good hitter.”
But Towers doesn’t appear to have many NL options. He could try to revive talks with Atlanta that broke down several weeks ago, but the Braves would be interested only if they lose out on free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
The Angels, of course, are in the American League, but they believe they can sell Peavy on the merits of playing for a perennial contender near his North San Diego County home.
They also have the kind of young talent, such as shortstops Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood, pitchers Nick Adenhart and Kevin Jepsen, and center fielder Reggie Willits, that would interest Towers.
Would Peavy be open to playing in Anaheim?
“We’d at least listen,” Axelrod said. “I don’t know where Jake’s at. This has been a fairly fatiguing exercise.”
Any Angels deal for Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner, would hinge on whether the Angels can sign Teixeira, who will probably command a deal in the eight-year, $160-million range.
If Teixeira returns, the Angels wouldn’t pursue Peavy, who is owed $11 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011 and $17 million in 2012. His deal includes a 2013 option for $22 million with a $4-million buyout.
But if the Angels don’t re-sign Teixeira, they would have the financial resources to pursue Peavy, 27, a two-time All-Star who has an 86-62 career record and 3.25 earned run average.
The Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have all submitted substantial offers to Teixeira, and there have been reports that the New York Yankees remain interested.
Told there is a perception the Angels are “falling behind” in the race for Teixeira, Reagins said, “I don’t agree with that.”
The Angels are also aggressively pursuing options for offense in case Teixeira signs elsewhere, with free-agent left fielder Raul Ibanez their top target.
Ibanez, who is being heavily pursued by Philadelphia, is 36, but he hit .286 with 23 homers and 110 runs batted in for last-place Seattle last season. He probably will command a deal in the three-year, $35-million range.
Among the other possibilities for the Angels are outfielders Juan Rivera, Garret Anderson, Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. Or, the Angels could move Chone Figgins from third to left field and trade for a third baseman such as Adrian Beltre, Garrett Atkins or Mike Lowell. The team is also interested in closer Brian Fuentes.
Does signing or acquiring such players hinge on whether Teixeira returns?
“Some do, some don’t,” Reagins said.
Have the Angels missed out on signing or acquiring a player because they don’t have a resolution to the Teixeira negotiations?
“Not at this point,” Reagins said.
BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX
Angels’ off-season keys
1. Engage Scott Boras
General Manager Tony Reagins didn’t have a face-to-face meeting with Boras, the agent for Mark Teixeira, but owner Arte Moreno did. The Angels remain confident they will be able to retain Teixeira. As for an offer for the slugger, Boras “knows where we stand,” Reagins said.
2. Identify rotation candidates
Reagins was in more of an exploratory mode when it came to his pursuit of a starter, but an attractive option emerged Thursday when trade talks broke down between the Padres and Cubs regarding Jake Peavy. The Angels could resume their pursuit of Peavy next week.
3. Develop plan for left field
The Angels have plenty of options, and topping their list is veteran slugger Raul Ibanez. Not on
the list, at least this week, is free agent Manny Ramirez, but that could change if the Angels fail to
sign Teixeira, are unable to add another outfielder and Ramirez is willing to sign a two-year deal.
-- Mike DiGiovanna