NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Angels are staying open-minded about their ongoing efforts to improve the rotation and bullpen, as they should. But Zack Greinke is their guy. He's the one they gave up three top-tier prospects to acquire in late July; the one they housed in their organization for two months, with the partial hope that it'd give them an upper-hand in his free-agency sweepstakes. So even if Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto is able to improve the pitching staff to his liking, it would be a disappointment if Greinke -- the best available arm, by far -- isn't ultimately a part of that mix. Right?
"I'm not really a disappointment guy, to tell you the truth," Dipoto said on Monday as Day 1 of the Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel was essentially wrapping up. "When you're looking to fill three and four spots on a 12-man pitching staff in a period of time, you're not going to hit on every target you have, and the great likelihood is you're going to have to shift somewhere along the way, and move toward a different target," he said. "That's why everybody's here. You have to be flexible. You have to have a variety of plans, and we will." The race for Greinke isn't over, of course. But he's still widely associated with a $150 million price tag, the Dodgers are still considered the heavy favorites and several media outlets have reported that the Angels -- who aren't expected to pay that much -- are essentially out. "I'm not going to get caught up in commenting on speculation," Dipoto said. "There's a lot of speculation out there." Dipoto, who signed potential closer Ryan Madson and traded for starter Tommy Hanson last week, made it clear that he still wants to sign another starter and another reliever. They've checked in on Anibal Sanchez, who's open to pitching in the West Coast, according to a source, and have also been linked to the likes of Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse and Shaun Marcum, with most of the starters likely waiting for Greinke to sign before making a move. The bullpen market has seen a couple of interesting names come off the board, though. Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who met with the Angels and was said to have come away impressed, is reportedly close to signing a two-year deal with the Cubs; and Joakim Soria, whose reps Dipoto touched base with at the General Managers Meetings, agreed in principle to a two-year deal with the Rangers, a source told MLB.com. But the Angels' GM feels the free-agent pool is still quite robust. "As a general rule, the market isn't flying," Dipoto said. "We've seen a couple of moves here in the last day or so, but we're obviously focused on starting rotation and bullpen. And for us, I can't say it's one or the other. We're going to try to improve both. Which one comes first, the chicken or the egg, I'm not sure." After signing Madson, the Angels are unlikely to sign another pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, which would rule out non-tendered former Giants closer Brian Wilson. The Angels are among several teams that have expressed interest in former Nats lefty Sean Burnett, who has posted a 2.76 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 176 1/3 innings from 2010-12, and are intrigued by ex-Rangers righty Mike Adams, who has been one of baseball's best setup men but was shut down in September due to shoulder issues. Adding one more starter would fill up a rotation that currently features Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Hanson and probably Garrett Richards. And one more reliever would further strengthen a corps that currently has Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen in the back end, while providing insurance in case Madson's recovery doesn't go well. Dipoto said he has "no sense of imminent timing of a deal being done, but we've had an open and consistent rhetoric with a variety of free agents." He's "optimistic" that he'll address at least one of his needs at the Winter Meetings, but said it's "certainly not a requirement." "As we sit here today, we have minimally one more rotation spot that we'd like to fill and minimally one more bullpen spot that we'd like to fill," Dipoto said. "If that happens in the next 48 hours, great. If it happens as we get closer to the holidays, fine. And my sense is that something is going to wind up drifting into January for teams, as well. It's just the way free agency works."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.