Angels decline option on Anderson

Baxter and Shaikin are Times staff writers.

Garret Anderson has played more games as an Angel than anyone else. But now it looks as if he won’t play another.

The team announced Tuesday that it would not be picking up Anderson’s $14-million option for 2009, leaving the 36-year-old outfielder’s future with the franchise in doubt after 14 seasons.

The Angels will pick up club options for right-hander John Lackey ($9 million) and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero ($15 million). But Anderson, a Los Angeles native who has never played for another organization, will be bought out of his contract for $3 million -- though the team has not ruled out re-signing him as a free agent.


“We’re going to continue talking with him,” General Manager Tony Reagins said of Anderson, who hit .293 with 15 home runs and 84 runs batted in last season, when he made $12 million. “He still wants to play. He still thinks he can play a significant role, as far as getting 500 or 600 at-bats. We just need to determine whether we have that place for him.”

That determination might not be made until well into the winter, depending on the progress of trade talks and free agency. So while friends say Anderson would prefer to stay in Anaheim, he might be faced with a deadline to accept a deal from another team before the Angels are ready to offer him a job.

“We can’t make a call on that right now. We have a lot of moving parts this off-season,” said Reagins, who has to make decisions on free agents Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Jon Garland and Juan Rivera and is weighing contract extensions with Guerrero and Lackey. “It could be some time.”

No matter what he might be willing to sign for, the Angels may not have a spot for Anderson, who ranks as the team’s career leader in numerous categories, including games (2,013), runs (1,024), hits (2,368) and RBIs (1,292). They could re-sign Rivera to play left field, for example, move Chone Figgins from third base to the outfield to create a spot for infielder Brandon Wood or they could make a run at outfielder Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies.

Meanwhile, the Angels said Guerrero’s Oct. 10 surgery to repair his left knee was successful. Catcher Mike Napoli will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Friday and both players are expected to be ready for spring training.

Outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., who underwent surgery to repair the patella tendon in his left knee Tuesday, is expected to need four to six months of rehabilitation, leaving his availability for opening day in doubt. Reagins said it was “unlikely” Matthews would be ready to participate in the first drills of the spring.