Angels look to 'move on' after losing Carl Crawford to the Red Sox
The Angels have become perennial bridesmaids, coming up short in recent free-agent negotiations for Mark Teixeira, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Alfonso Soriano and trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera.
They swung and missed at their top target again this winter when outfielder Carl Crawford, whom many thought was the perfect fit for the Angels, agreed to terms on a seven-year, $142-million contract with the Boston Red Sox late Wednesday night.
But General Manager Tony Reagins said Thursday morning that a highly volatile marketplace, in which the cost for premium free agents continues to soar, won't change the way the Angels go about their business.
"We'll probably be on this side of things in the future, just like a lot of other clubs who have had players go in other directions; we're not unique," Reagins said on the last day of the winter meetings.
"We evaluate a player and his skill set, assign a value in years and average annual value and reach a level we're comfortable at. Once [negotiations] exceed that, you have to make a decision one way or another."
But how can the Angels expect to sign the best free agents when they seem unwilling to overpay them, like the Red Sox and New York Yankees often do, and like the Washington Nationals did when they signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126-million deal Sunday?
"It's simple; we're in the business of evaluating players," Reagins said. "Just because something changes the market value of a player, that doesn't mean you have to go and do something you're not comfortable with."
Reagins wouldn’t discuss details of the Crawford talks. According to a major league source, the Angels' guaranteed offer to Crawford was for six years and $108 million.
But another source familiar with negotiations said the Angels added a seventh-year vesting option that would have pushed the deal closer to $126 million.
The former Tampa Bay star, the source said, signed with Boston because he wanted to remain in the American League East.
There is a perception among fans and some national media that owner Arte Moreno has unlimited financial resources, and that has helped fuel the vitriol of some Angels fans who are upset that Moreno didn't do whatever it took to sign Crawford.
"To our fans, we're committed to winning," Reagins said. "We're going to play baseball hard every day. Free agency is part of the process. We're going to put a championship-caliber club on the field and keep moving forward."
For the Angels, that will probably mean a pursuit of free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is seeking a deal in the five-year, $75-million range, and possibly closer Rafael Soriano. They also are expected to step up their efforts to lure pitcher Cliff Lee, and they've been linked to trade speculation for Texas third baseman Michael Young.
"We've moved on," Reagins said. "It's kind of like being a closer. You have to have a short memory."
For more on the Angels and reaction to the Crawford signing, go to www.latimes.com/sports.
--Mike DiGiovanna in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Photo: Carl Crawford. Credit: Winslow Townson /Associated Press.