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Angels have agenda at Meetings

Angels have agenda at Meetings

LAS VEGAS -- The Angels, led by general manager Tony Reagins, have crossed state lines with their hands full, their ears and eyes wide open and their minds set on making moves to improve a club that has won American League West Division titles in four of the past five seasons.

Packed into four days beginning Monday, this far-reaching business at Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings starts with briefcases full of data on free agents, including some high-profile talents who require no introductions or resumes to the Angels.

Since the calendar flipped to November, Mark Teixeira has been at the top of all Angels lists, and that hasn't changed. Agent Scott Boras is believed to be seeking a 10-year, $200 million contract for Teixeira, and the Angels are reluctant to go to 10 years for any player.

While luring the coveted first baseman back into the fold remains priority No. 1 for Reagins and Co., they know they have to proceed with other players and issues.

Closer Francisco Rodriguez, the sport's most productive saves machine over the past four seasons with a record 62 successful forays in 2008, also is free and accepting bids.

Given an abundance of available closers, Rodriguez's market does not appear as fertile as Teixeira's. This leaves open the possibility that K-Rod will return to the only organization he has known since leaving Caracas as a wide-eyed teen in 1999.

While the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles and Nationals have been presented as the primary competition for Teixeira, the Mets have been the most likely candidates to land K-Rod from the start. How long they're willing to go in a potential union with the closer seems to be the big issue.

The Angels reportedly have put a three-year, $34 million offer in front of Rodriguez, and if agent Paul Kinzer can't find a better deal elsewhere, the 26-year-old could be back in Orange County.

That would end one potential search for the Angels, but others are in play.

If Teixeira doesn't return, Reagins will have other options for owner Arte Moreno's budget, which is projected in the $120 million range.

CC Sabathia, the premier starting pitcher in free agency, has been widely connected with the Angels, who have made a point of deflecting away the published notion that the southpaw has taken priority over Teixeira.

"That is not the case," Reagins said. "Mark is a player we value highly and would love to sign."

The starting rotation, led by recent All-Stars John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders, with Jered Weaver capable of reaching that stature, is an enduring strength.

Fortifying the offense, Reagins submits, will occupy the Angels. They will try to put together an attack that will carry them through October and past the American League Division Series, which has presented a formidable stumbling block since the club's 2002 World Series title run.

With Garret Anderson and Juan Rivera ready to field offers, and Gary Matthews Jr. figuring to miss the early part of the season while recovering from knee surgery, the club needs to address an outfield that has been deep and productive in recent seasons.

Along with Anderson -- the franchise leader in hits, total bases and RBIs -- and Rivera, free agency has some intriguing names to offer in Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, Pat Burrell, Milton Bradley and, of course, Manny Ramirez.

A relatively quick resolution with Teixeira would help in terms of moving on to this and other matters, but Boras, who represents Anderson and Ramirez as well as Teixeira -- never has been known to move swiftly.

The Angels, with a wealth of infielders and a crop of strong arms in the farm system, could find another bat in the trade market. Among the big names surfacing as potentially available are Jermaine Dye, Ryan Ludwick, Paul Konerko, Troy Glaus, Aubrey Huff, Alex Rios, Adrian Beltre and Garrett Atkins.

In other Winter Meetings business, results of pre-1943 and post-1942 Hall of Fame Veterans' Committee ballots will be announced at 10 a.m. PT on Monday. Among the candidates is center fielder Vada Pinson, who played briefly for the Angels but is best known for his superlative play in Cincinnati.

Tuesday brings the announcement of the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting excellence, and Wednesday offers the Baseball Writers' Association of America Spink Award winner and an MLB announcement regarding the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The Rule 5 Draft at 9 a.m. PT highlights Thursday's closing proceedings.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }