Angels remain flexible in pursuit of SP …

They could sign two moderately-priced free-agent starters, they could sign one high-priced free-agent starter and leave the fifth spot open for competition, or they could sign one free-agent starter and trade for another. The latter remains the most likely scenario, but with three days left before the Winter Meetings, the Angels are keeping their options open as they try to patch up the two holes remaining in their rotation.

Matt Garza, who’s 30 years old, is from Southern California and isn’t tied to Draft pick compensation, is a target. But they could turn to the next tier down — guys like Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Mike Pelfrey and Paul Maholm — if his price tag remains too high. The Angels aren’t particularly interested in Bronson Arroyo or Bartolo Colon at this time, and they still have no plans to sign any of the three starters tied to Draft pick compensation (Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Hiroki Kuroda, who’s almost surely returning to the Yankees).

Howie Kendrick continues to be dangled, with shortstop Erick Aybar and outfielder/first baseman Mark Trumbo still unlikely to be dealt (that, however, can change if the Angels don’t like what’s available to them in the free-agent market). The Angels also have flexibility in their bullpen, allowing them to dangle the likes of Michael Kohn, Kevin Jepsen and Dane De La Rosa. Catchers Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger could also be made available in a package for starting pitching.

The Angels really like Masahiro Tanaka. But with a proposed maximum bid of $20 million, the Japanese star may not be posted by his current team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and if he is, most of if not all teams will throw their hat in the ring (the proposed agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball allows the posted player to negotiate with any teams that are tied for the highest bid).

– Alden Gonzalez

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