Link: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ang ... nes-sports
Stoneman Works on His Additions
# Angels may be trying to get Orioles' Javy Lopez as a DH and left-handed reliever Romero from Twins.
By Mike DiGiovanna, Times Staff Writer
DALLAS -- The Angels left baseball's annual winter meetings Thursday with virtually the same roster they came with, failing to add a middle-of-the-order bat and reliever they believe will improve their team, but they're still in pursuit of both.
According to multiple sources, the Angels have discussed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles that would send first baseman Darin Erstad to Baltimore for catcher Javy Lopez, who would serve as the Angels' full-time designated hitter and emergency catcher.
The Angels, according to a source, also have had talks with Minnesota about left-hander J.C. Romero, who could be acquired for a prospect. The Angels have some interest in free agents Frank Thomas and Nomar Garciaparra as possible DH candidates and Ricardo Rincon as a left-handed relief specialist.
"We have some balls still in the air," General Manager Bill Stoneman said. "Whether they're going to result in deals, I don't know at this point."
With their pursuit of Boston slugger Manny Ramirez stalled, the Angels were receptive to overtures from the Orioles about Lopez, who will become expendable when Baltimore finalizes a four-year, $27.25-million deal with free-agent catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Lopez, who is due $8.5 million in 2006, the final year of a three-year, $22.5-million contract, hit .278 in 103 games last season, with 15 home runs and 49 runs batted in. But in his last season before becoming a free agent, the 35-year-old hit .328 with 43 homers and 109 RBIs for Atlanta in 2003.
Lopez's defensive skills have eroded, but with Jose Molina and Jeff Mathis sharing the catching job next season, the Angels wouldn't need Lopez much behind the plate. And his presence would enable the Angels to carry only two catchers instead of the three.
Erstad, who has the same 2006 salary ($8.5 million) as Lopez, would fill the Orioles' need for a top-notch defensive first baseman and new Manager Sam Perlozzo's desire for more gritty, team-oriented players. A trade also would clear a full-time spot for Angel first base prospect Casey Kotchman.
Erstad, who is entering the last year of a four-year deal, has a partial no-trade clause — each year, he picks four teams he can not be traded to. The Orioles are not on that list.
The teams seemed close to a deal during the meetings, but talks appeared to have cooled Thursday while the Orioles considered whether to use Lopez in a different deal and the Angels determined whether he would be an upgrade over Juan Rivera, who batted .271 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs in 106 games last season.
Romero, a fastball/sinker specialist who will make $2.2 million next season, was one of the American League's top relievers in 2002, going 9-2 with a 1.89 earned-run average in 81 games.
The 29-year-old hasn't been as dominant the past three seasons, going 13-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 215 games, and he has had some run-ins with Twin Manager Ron Gardenhire. But he held left-handers to a .198 average last season.
The Angels and Red Sox made virtually no progress in trade talks regarding Ramirez here. According to a source, Boston first asked for a package headed by pitcher Ervin Santana and Kotchman, but the Red Sox were told Santana is not available.
The Red Sox countered with a request for one of two pitchers, Kelvim Escobar or Scot Shields, two of three prospects from a pool of shortstop Brandon Wood, second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar, and one other minor leaguer. But the Angels turned that down as well.
In other news, the Angels selected double-A second baseman Eric Rodland from the Detroit Tigers in the minor league portion of Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
Seems like a good deal for both teams. Angels get rid of Erstad to open up first base for Kotchman and add a DH/Emergency catcher in Lopez. Orioles get the gritty type of player that Sam Perlozzo is looking for and gives them a great defensive 1st basemen...
Says that talks have cooled but I still think it can happen. Not the big bat us Angel fans were looking for but I don't mind it if it means no Erstad and Kotchman starting at 1st.