Zack Greinke is expected to take his free-agent negotiations deep into November and possibly December, but the fate of two other Angels starting pitchers, as well as right fielder Torii Hunter, could be determined this week.
The team must decide by Wednesday whether to pick up Ervin Santana's $13-million option for 2013 or pay a $1-million buyout and by Friday whether to pick up Dan Haren's $15.5-million option or pay a $3.5-million buyout.
Neither option is expected to be exercised, and both will likely leave the team, but General Manager Jerry Dipoto on Monday raised another, albeit long-shot, possibility, hinting that he has explored trades of Santana and Haren in hopes of netting some kind of return before the players walk as free agents.
"There are still a lot of possibilities," Dipoto said, "not the least of which is we'd exercise the options on one or both players, look to trade one or both or decline the options on both. And all are still in play."
Haren, 32, was 12-13 with a 4.33 earned-run average in 2012 but was slowed by lower-back tightness and showed signs of wear and tear. His fastball, in the 94-mph range a few years ago, dipped to the 89-mph range.
Santana, 29, was 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA and gave up a major league-high 39 home runs. He had a particularly rough nine-start stretch in June and July, when he was 2-4 with an 8.16 ERA.
With Jered Weaver ($16.2 million) and C.J. Wilson ($11.5 million) under contract for 2013, the Angels, who had a record $159-million payroll in 2012, want to marshal their resources to make a strong run at Greinke, who is expected to command a deal of at least five years and $110 million.
Money will also determine whether Hunter, a free agent now that his five-year, $90-million contract has expired, returns to the Angels. The team must decide by Friday whether to make Hunter a "qualifying offer" of $13.3 million.
Though Hunter, who hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 runs batted in this season, said he'd take a significant pay cut to remain, the sides appear far apart on a deal. It seems more likely that he and the Angels will part ways.
But Arte Moreno is a huge fan of Hunter's, and the owner has been known to expand the payroll for certain players, so it's possible the Angels may extend a qualifying offer.
If they do, Hunter would have seven days to accept or reject. If accepted, Hunter would return. If rejected, Hunter could continue to negotiate with the Angels. But if he signed elsewhere, the Angels would receive draft-pick compensation.
"We'd love to have Torii back," Dipoto said, "but it has to fit with what you're trying to do with a 25-man roster."
Center fielder Mike Trout and Wilson are finalists for Gold Glove Awards, which will be announced Tuesday night. … Relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen and utility infielder Maicer Izturis also officially became free agents Monday. None is expected to return to the Angels.