Angels will wait for possible roster upgrades

Move for second baseman unlikely unless in-house options don't work out

Angels will wait for possible roster upgrades

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels will go into the 2015 season with more payroll flexibility than they've had in at least the last four years, a cushion they plan to use on in-season upgrades throughout the roster, if necessary.

They don't plan to use it just yet, though.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Josh Hamilton and lingering questions at second base, the Angels are expected to give their current group a chance before looking outside the organization for help, sources with knowledge of the situation said.

Their most likely target may eventually be a second baseman, but that probably won't come until June or July, if none of their current options -- Johnny Giavotella, Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Taylor Featherston and Alex Yarbrough -- pan out.

Chase Utley is the most popular name in the trade market and could be attainable for any team willing to take on his contract. That, however, could be an issue, especially for an Angels team with a lot of money tied to Albert Pujols and Hamilton long term. Utley is owed $15 million in 2015 and has three additional $15 million options that vest with 500 plate appearances each prior year, through his age-39 season.

Utley would have to approve of any trade, but he was born and raised in Southern California and has said he'd "listen" to any deal presented to him.

Other veteran options could include Brandon Phillips of the Reds (owed $39 million over the next three years, with 10/5 rights that allow him to block a trade); Aaron Hill of the D-backs (owed $12 million each of the next two years); and Daniel Murphy of the Mets (owed $8 million in his final season before free agency).

That list could grow in a few months, though, which is part of the reason the Angels prefer to wait. Owner Arte Moreno said early in the spring that the Angels have $10 million to $15 million to spend on in-season upgrades, and that number could increase depending on how long Hamilton is suspended.

Some additional notes from Saturday:

• X-rays on Giavotella's left thumb came back negative Saturday morning. Giavotella, in the running to be the starting second baseman, banged his thumb against third base while sliding in for a triple Friday night, but stayed in the game and told manager Mike Scioscia he could play Saturday.

• Rutledge, another candidate for the starting second-base job, felt some tightness in his hamstring during Tuesday's game and hasn't played since. Scioscia expects him back in the lineup Sunday, though.

• Scioscia praised Marc Krauss, the left-handed power hitter who's in the running for the last bench spot and is 8-for-17 with seven RBIs in Cactus League play. "Of all the guys in camp, I don't think Marc has had a bad at-bat," Scioscia said.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.