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Anderson ready to test market

Anderson ready to test market

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Speaking publicly for the first time since becoming a free agent, Garret Anderson said Wednesday that he was "a little surprised and disappointed" the Angels didn't pick up his $11 million contract option for 2009.

At the same time, he's intrigued by the notion of being a desirable commodity in the baseball marketplace for the first time.

"In 14 years [in the Major Leagues], I've never been in this position before," Anderson told MLB.com by phone. "It's all new to me, and I'm trying to make sure I do everything right. Personally, I'm going to be patient and see how things play out.

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"As the offseason goes on, I'll start getting phone calls. I hope people don't think, 'Hey, he's been with the Angels for 14 years; he's not going anywhere.' Who knows, they may not want me back."

Anderson was informed by general manager Tony Reagins and manager Mike Scioscia that they weren't picking up the $11 million on the final year of his contract. Anderson said the $3 million he receives from the club on Jan. 31 is not a buyout, as widely reported, but rather part of the four-year, $48 million deal he signed after the 2004 season.

"That money was coming to me on Jan. 31 no matter what," Anderson said. "I got $3 million on the front side and $3 million on the back side of the contract, so it would average out to $12 million a year.

"The reason I was a little surprised they didn't pick up my option is I produced. I had a very good season, especially considering how it started. You look at what the market is, and the $11 million is pretty fair market value for my performance. I've been consistent, and I haven't declined."

A .296 career hitter, Anderson batted .293 in 2008 with 15 homers. His 84 RBIs were second on the club to Vladimir Guerrero's 91. Anderson's 587 plate appearances were his most since 2005, and he batted .335 in the second half. He played solid defense in left for a club that produced more wins (100) than any in the Majors or in franchise history.

At 36, he has a shot at 3,000 hits if he can remain reasonably healthy for four more seasons. He is 632 hits away from the magical plateau that virtually guarantees a Hall of Fame selection historically. Of the 27 players in the 3,000-hit club, only Pete Rose, Craig Biggio, Rickey Henderson and Rafael Palmeiro are not enshrined. None of the four has appeared on the ballot.

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"I know I can still play at a high level," said Anderson, the franchise leader in games, runs, doubles, total bases and RBIs as well as hits. "That's why I felt the way I did about them not asking me to come back.

"You're in one place for 14 years, and in your own mind you think you're going to be there forever. But at the end of the day, it's a business. And from the business side, I understand. But emotionally, thinking about leaving your first team, the only team you've played with ... it's hard.

"I might not be sentimental, but I'm a person who likes to feel comfortable. I've had the same manager for nine years. It will definitely be a different emotion if I go someplace else. It will almost be like starting over, being the new kid in school. That's what Torii [Hunter] told me when he came here this season. He sat back and watched. I think you'll see a different Torii next year, more involved in the clubhouse."

The Angels are focused on doing everything in their power to bring back Mark Teixeira, the slugging first baseman acquired on July 29 from Atlanta in exchange for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek.

Teixeira, coveted by a number of clubs according to agent Scott Boras, is seeking a long-term deal that would be the biggest contract ever handed out by the Angels.

"They've been very open about where they're at," Anderson said. "They're trying to sign Tex. They're always trying to improve themselves. I understand that."

He hasn't written off returning to the Angels, who have said they'd like to talk to their left fielder about the possibility of returning. They have exclusive negotiating rights to their six free agents until Nov. 13. Other clubs can talk to free agents, but only in generalities, not in dollars and years.

"As of today, they haven't mentioned money," Anderson said of the Angels. "Winters kind of play out in a pecking order. I've seen it before with other guys. I'm going to enjoy my family this winter and see how everything goes."

If Anderson has swung a bat for the final time in an Angels uniform, it did not end happily. He was 3-for-19 in the four American League Division Series games against Boston that ended their season, finding no luck at all. He lined out to left field once and hit two balls that were fielded at walls, one in spectacular fashion by J.D. Drew.

"We're all held accountable for what we do in the postseason -- and it was a bad postseason," Anderson said. "For some reason, we didn't execute. I felt I played well and hit the ball well, but I didn't have a lot to show for it. I've had good postseasons before, and I have high expectations for myself. I didn't perform the way I wanted.

"Overall, however, it was a very good year. There are no doubts in my mind. I know I can still play -- and I plan to help somebody next season."

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

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