The Angels do not plan to negotiate with their seven potential free agents before the end of the season, increasing the likelihood that the club will have to compete with offers from other clubs if it wishes to retain any of those players.
“It’s unlikely we’d do anything during this time period,” General Manager Tony Reagins said Friday. “We don’t want it to be a distraction. We want to focus on trying to win.”
The Angels and ace John Lackey discussed a contract extension this spring, but the two sides were far apart, and then Lackey sat out six weeks because of a strained right forearm. The Angels tabled the talks when Lackey got hurt.
Lackey, speaking earlier Friday, said it would be “probably a little late” for the two sides to revive talks this season. He said he preferred to focus on the pennant race as well and said he would not rule out returning to the Angels because they had not signed him by now.
“At the end of the season, I’ll definitely listen to everybody,” he said. “I’m basically not even worried about it. I have to perform to the level I need to perform at.”
Lackey and third baseman Chone Figgins head the list of Angels eligible for free agency. The others are outfielders Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero, utility player Robb Quinlan and pitchers Kelvim Escobar and Darren Oliver.
Reagins says he is uncertain whether the Angels can make a trade. With two weeks before the trading deadline, he said many teams have yet to decide whether they will put veterans on the market.
The club has pursued Toronto’s Roy Halladay, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, but club officials are not confident they can satisfy the Blue Jays in a trade.
The Angels would consider trading infielder Brandon Wood, their top prospect, but they would be hesitant to include one of their major league pitchers -- think Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders or Ervin Santana -- at a time they have three pitchers on the disabled list.
The priority appears to be a late-inning reliever to set up closer Brian Fuentes. Reagins chose his words carefully when asked whether the Angels could afford to trade a major league pitcher.
“We’ll make the best deal we can, not only for this season but for future seasons,” Reagins said. “We’re not going to weaken ourselves in certain areas to fill a temporary need.”
And on Wood . . .
Wood played shortstop extensively this season at triple-A Salt Lake, but Manager Mike Scioscia said he did not envision Wood playing there for the Angels.
“With the way Erick is playing now, and the way Izzy is playing now, that’s not a position where we have a need,” Scioscia said, referring to Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis.
Scioscia said Wood would play first base and third base.
Scioscia was excited by the latest reports on reliever Jose Arredondo, whom the Angels banished to Salt Lake last month.
Arredondo had a 1.62 earned-run average as a rookie last season. He had a 5.55 ERA this season, and then he sat out almost three weeks at Salt Lake because of a sore elbow, but Scioscia said Arredondo had “the best stuff he’s had this year” in pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings for Salt Lake on Thursday.