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Fifth starter is on Angels' agenda

Fifth starter is on Angels' agenda

LAS VEGAS -- While talk of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes filled the hallways and corridors of the Bellagio at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, the Angels were venturing off into areas not involving the free-agent first baseman.

General manager Tony Reagins disclosed that "there are a couple of different options we're looking at that were not in play earlier." These were "pitching related, in trades and free agency," he said, presumably candidates to fill the fifth spot in the rotation vacated by free agent Jon Garland.

With CC Sabathia off the market, leaving Teixeira and Manny Ramirez as the biggest names, the major starters in free agency are Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett and Ben Sheets. The Yankees are sizing them up for more of the riches bestowed upon Sabathia, their new ace.

There are other interesting names out there, starting with John Smoltz, who would consider leaving Atlanta, and Randy Johnson, late of Arizona.

Randy Wolf, at 32 and coming off a solid season with the Padres and Astros, would be an interesting fit, giving the Angels a second left-hander behind Joe Saunders.

Hard-throwing lefty Oliver Perez, having shown flashes of greatness, is available, along with such right-handers as Braden Looper, Livan Hernandez, Josh Fogg, Jason Jennings and ex-Angels pitcher Paul Byrd.

Among the starters believed to be available in trades are the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine, the Royals' Brian Bannister, the Twins' Boof Bonser and the Pirates' Ian Snell.

"We're still juggling a lot of balls," Reagins said. "There already have been some tough decisions we had to make."

While they were taking and making calls on Wednesday, Reagins and his staff were monitoring reports of the escalating bidding for Teixeira. The Nationals reportedly presented the biggest offer yet, an eight-year deal averaging $20 million per year, according to a Major League source.

Nationals general manager Jim Bowden confirmed that an offer was made but did not reveal any of its terms.

Along with the Nationals, the Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees are either involved in the Teixeira talks or expected to formulate bids.

"He knows where we stand," Reagins said of Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras, "and we know where he stands.

"We have a level of salary and years we're comfortable with, and we're hopeful we can get something done. We think it's fair; whether that gets it done or not, I couldn't tell you. But I think it's fair."

Reagins would not say what those limits are and has made no disclosure of a concrete offer to Teixeira. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Boras seemed to suggest a proposal has been tendered when he said, "You need to revisit that with the Angels."

Teixeira's needs, the agent said, "are the usual -- consideration of what's good for his family, the economics, a team that can win. All of that enters into the evaluation. He has played in both leagues, so he can evaluate what's best for his family."

Reagins is banking on Teixeira's three months with the Angels after arriving from Atlanta -- he batted .358 and played superior defense in 54 games -- influencing his decision.

"We hope that Mark's experience with the Angels was enjoyable," Reagins said. "That's what we've been told. Hopefully, that will get it done."

With respect to Ramirez, who would give the offense a jolt if Teixeira doesn't return, Reagins said nothing had changed in the club's designs. That suggests that the game-breaking left fielder remains an "unlikely" target of the Angels' pursuit.

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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