Moreno says interest remains in landing ace

Angels owner Arte Moreno said the club remains interested in acquiring an ace starter and has not heard anything that would preclude the pursuit of the likes of Toronto’s Roy Halladay and Cleveland’s Cliff Lee.

“We’re keeping all our options open,” Moreno said. “If we can see a fair deal for someone we believe can help our team, we’re going to compete there. We don’t have any financial constraints.”

Halladay would make $20.5 million over the last two months of this season and all of next season, after which his contract expires. Lee also would be a free agent after next season and would make $10.9 million until then.

However, a trade for a veteran reliever appears more likely. The Angels tried but failed to land Rafael Betancourt, traded Thursday from Cleveland to Colorado.


The Angels’ setup men have struggled all season. In the absence of a trade, Manager Mike Scioscia said he could go down the stretch with rookie Kevin Jepsen and Jose Arredondo -- now in the minor leagues -- pitching the eighth inning.

“You know the potential is there,” Scioscia said. “It’s less of a certainty than if you get an experienced power arm to be in that mix.”

The Angels made an uncharacteristic midseason trade last summer, acquiring Mark Teixeira from Atlanta for Casey Kotchman and a minor league reliever.

At the time, Moreno said he would not have made the trade had the Angels’ baseball operations department not been convinced that Kendry Morales could play first base in the major leagues. The Angels failed to re-sign Teixeira, but Morales has emerged as one of the team’s most valuable players.

Could the Angels make a similar midseason trade for a star pitcher?

“It’s harder to do,” Moreno said. “The first thing is, you give up a lot of young kids, especially your pitchers. You’re mortgaging your future. Pitching is always at a premium. The cost in free agency -- you need to develop from within.”

Moreno said he would be reluctant to trade multiple prospects “for a four- or five-month run.”

“That’s how you tear an organization apart,” he said,

Moreno said he constantly evaluates the team over a three- to five-year window, but said he believed this year’s team could win.

“Our focus is always on trying to win a championship,” he said. “We feel we’re in that mix.”

All-Star update

Moreno spoke after a news conference to unveil the 2010 All-Star game logo, which features a silver halo circling a red star.

The Angels’ plan to share the game and a summer of surrounding festivities with all of Southern California, as a tribute to a market Moreno said is often stereotyped as having “fickle fans.”

The Dodgers and Angels have combined to sell 7 million tickets in each of the last four years, with both teams qualifying for the playoffs last season and in first place again this season.

“It gives us an opportunity to showcase what’s going on here,” Moreno said. “It’s all about the fans. Without fans, you don’t have a game.”

Short hops

Scioscia made the equivalent of an oral commitment to outfielder Bobby Abreu for 2010, saying, “We hope he’s here past this year.” Abreu, who signed a one-year, $5-million deal before the season, entered Thursday with 47 runs batted in his last 45 games and led the American League with a .392 batting average with runners in scoring position. . . . An MRI exam on Juan Rivera’s tight right hamstring was negative, and the outfielder is expected to return as a designated hitter this weekend.

Times staff writer Ben Bolch contributed to this report.