'Limit' to Angels' spending, GM says

'Limit' to Angels' spending, GM says

INDIANAPOLIS -- They have suites in the same hotel, but as of late Tuesday afternoon, Tony Reagins and Alex Anthopoulos had not met face-to-face to discuss Roy Halladay at the Winter Meetings.

"I haven't seen him," Reagins, the Angels' general manager, said of Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays' new GM. "I saw him on TV when we arrived. We don't have any history. He's a good guy. I know he's working hard on trying to accomplish some things.

"With such a monumental offseason for him, he's trying to do his due diligence."

Apparently, the two men have had phone discussions.

"I've conversed with him several times regarding several issues," Reagins said. "I have not seen him."

Another person Reagins hadn't seen, Steve Hilliard, is the agent representing John Lackey, the premium free-agent starter on the open market.

Asked about a report that indicated Team Lackey was seeking a six-year deal, Reagins said the Angels have their boundaries but wasn't specific in identifying them.

"Not just for pitchers, but for [position] players as well, there's a limit," Reagins said. "There's a point where it doesn't make sense and can jeopardize an organization going forward -- the type of dollars a player might command."

Halladay has one year left, at $15.75 million. It is doubtful the Angels would move three or four quality players without an extension commitment. Halladay, 32, lives in Florida and has expressed a desire to remain on the East Coast but hasn't ruled out the Angels, according to various reports.

Anthopoulos is meeting other GMs only in his suite, one on one, in an effort to keep a tight seal on all discussions involving Halladay, who owns 148 career wins and is in line to be a free agent following the 2010 season. Halladay produced 17 of those last season with the Jays after he, despite unceasing rumors, was not dealt at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The Angels were among those in hot pursuit of Halladay. It was widely reported that the deal-breaker was the Angels' refusal to part with shortstop Erick Aybar, their emerging star, in a package of players.

Reagins pointed out that he never said Aybar was the sticking point, but the GM also made it clear that it would require a blockbuster proposal to pry loose the 25-year-old shortstop.

"With some players," Reagins said, "it would take a significant package to move him. With Aybar, he's an extremely talented player. We haven't seen the best of Aybar. He's going to grow and get better, and there's a good chance he'll do that as an Angel.

"He has tremendous value for us."

If Aybar -- who led the team in hitting with a .312 average and played spectacular defense -- is untouchable, it's largely because the Angels have several other quality shortstops in Maicer Izturis and Brandon Wood. The duo is expected to occupy third base with Chone Figgins having moved to Seattle.

"Wood can play shortstop," Reagins said. "Izzy can play second, third and short. We have some flexibility there.

"You have to be open-minded to a lot of different things and not close off anything. It would have to be something that makes sense."

There was nothing new on the Jason Bay front, Reagins reiterating interest in the slugging left fielder.

"We have to find out what it's going to take to come to a deal with him," Reagins said. "We don't know yet. It's preliminary groundwork."

Reagins acknowledged interest as well, in varying degrees, in Darren Oliver and Kelvim Escobar, who are free agents after gracing the Angels' staff.

Arbitration was not offered to Oliver, a Type A free agent, meaning he can be signed without compensation. Seattle, clearly appreciative of the talent in Anaheim, has expressed interest in the 39-year-old southpaw, who has gone 15-3 across the past three seasons as a dependable bullpen pillar.

"It was a strategic decision, and sometimes you have to make them," Reagins said of not offering arbitration to Oliver. "We like the player and would like to have him back at some point. In terms of a future contract, it has to be manageable. Our contract offer was not manageable to Darren, and now he's shopping his services."

Escobar, limited to one start over the past two seasons by right shoulder issues resulting in surgery, is planning to test his arm in competition in his native Venezuela during the window of Dec. 15-20.

While the Angels don't plan to have a scout there, they intend to stay in touch with Escobar and evaluate his status. At 33, Escobar will probably be offered an incentive-loaded contract by some team if he shows he can still bring the heat. Escobar was an 18-game winner in 2007 as the staff co-ace with Lackey.

As for Gary Matthews Jr., who requested a trade with two years and $23.5 million left on his contract to fulfill his desire to play center field, Reagins said: "He is under contract for 2011 and 2010, and until that changes, I have no comment," adding that he has "a lot of respect" for the versatile outfielder.

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