The Red Sox weren't expected to go after Crawford to this extent after trading for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who will command a salary in the same general range as the one apparently presented to Crawford. But Boston, having missed out on the postseason in an injury-riddled 2010 season, seems determined to get back to October with an all-out assault.
The Yankees, who made the first firm offer to left-hander Cliff Lee at the Winter Meetings to the reported tune of six years and $140 million, figure to be more determined than ever now to land the brilliant starter in response to Boston's two major moves.
The Angels' needs are focused on speed and offense. Nobody in free agency combines Crawford's multiple talents in one explosive, productive package, but Beltre is a force, coming off a superb season with the Red Sox.
Scott Boras, the agent for Beltre and Soriano, said things have picked up with respect to Beltre fueling speculation that the Angels were preparing an offer for the veteran third baseman.
"Well, that's a very busy market for Adrian," Boras said. "We're in the middle of lot of negotiations with a lot of teams for him and they're ongoing. We're well down the road with a lot of teams. It could be something [soon] or take a while, too. We're open to discussions with all teams on Adrian.
Asked about a level of interest in the Angels, Boras said: "You've got to talk to the Angels. Our policy is on teams, I'm going to let them dictate who they announce publicly who they're interested in. Obviously, Adrian has a home in L.A. and has played in L.A. [with the Dodgers] and is very comfortable with the marketplace."
Angels general manager Tony Reagins said he was "not aware of Scott's comments. He would know better than I. It's his player. Our options are wide open. Our opportunities are still out there. We have to keep working.
"In this job, sometimes things happen quickly. Sometimes they don't."
Reagins does not discuss free agents by name until one is signed, sealed and delivered.
Reagins was neither denying nor confirming his interest in free agents on Wednesday. He has taken a path of nonresistance in the environment of wild rumors at the Winter Meetings, choosing to let it all flow to its natural conclusion in the next 24 hours.
"I'm not upset with it," Reagins said. "I take it for what it is."
While incessant media reports were attaching the Angels to every big-name free agent left on the board, Reagins remained hunkered down in his suite at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, making and answering calls, getting a feel for who wants what and how a possible deal might go down -- within financial reason.
Asked about a report claiming he'd contacted representatives for Lee, whose eventual signing figures to set off a chain-reaction of player movement, Reagins deferred. His only direct comment was that no formal offer has been presented to any free agents at this point.
"This is one of those things where in this environment, a lot of those things get tossed around," Reagins said. "It's pretty obvious we're linked to every high-profile free agent out there. Sometimes it's accurate, and sometimes it's inaccurate. I haven't commented on who I've met with before or since, and I'm not going to do it now. We're going to conduct our business privately."
Various reports had connected the Angels to Crawford, Beltre, Soriano and Lee, the big four among free agents when the Meetings opened. The Angels' relative interest in the foursome appeared to run in that order.
Lee seems the longest of shots given that starting pitching is the Angels' primary strength. Investing virtually their entire available budget in another starter doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, with all due respect to Lee's abundant gifts.
"Pitching for us is a strength, especially starting pitching," Reagins said, coming as close to shutting down the Lee report as he could.
Beltre is believed to be seeking five years in the $80 million range, but that figure could rise in light of the deals that have been landed by Jason Werth (seven years, $126 million) and now Crawford.
While Hideki Matsui, the Angels' primary designated hitter in 2010, appears to be moving close to a deal with the Athletics, Vladimir Guerrero is available as a free agent after a superb season in Texas. It doesn't appear likely Vlad will be reunited with his former club.
"He's amongst a group of guys who have our interest level," Reagins said. "We haven't limited our options. Is it a far stretch that Vlad could be back here? I wouldn't say it's a far stretch, but we haven't gone down that path."
Reagins reiterated that he's "comfortable" with the Angels' bullpen, and manager Mike Scioscia said the reports on fifth starter Scott Kazmir's new conditioning program in Arizona are "highly encouraging."