The Angels plan to cut ties with third baseman Troy Glaus, handing the position to rookie Dallas McPherson and positioning the team for a possible run at center fielder Carlos Beltran, the crown jewel of free agency.
"From a financial standpoint, McPherson fits better than Glaus and we've got other needs," Angel General Manager Bill Stoneman said Friday. "We'll probably make use of our resources in other areas."
The Angels plan to move center fielder Garret Anderson to left and keep former center fielder Darin Erstad at first base, leaving starting pitching and center field as the top two winter priorities.
With the contracts of Glaus and pitchers Troy Percival, Kevin Appier, Ramon Ortiz and Aaron Sele expiring, the Angels could drop $41.5 million from their 2004 payroll, more than enough to join the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros as top bidders for Beltran. The Angels also might bid on pitcher Pedro Martinez.
Stoneman does not comment on potential acquisitions. Scott Boras, the agent for Beltran, did not return a call for comment. Boras, whose office is in Orange County, has developed a cordial working relationship with Angel owner Arte Moreno.
Mike Nicotera, the agent for Glaus, also did not return a call. Stoneman said he had spoken with Nicotera and said the decision not to pursue Glaus reflected "more finances" than a concern about injury. Stoneman declined to discuss the asking price of the free agent, who received $9.95 million last season.
"I know how they're expecting to be compensated," Stoneman said. "Rather than use our resources to go after Glaus, we'll go after other needs."
Glaus, 28, the 2002 World Series most valuable player and the only player in club history to hit 40 home runs in a season, underwent shoulder surgery in May. He returned for the final five weeks of the season, appearing strictly as a designated hitter. He said in September he expected his shoulder to be fine next season and intended to play third base, not first base or DH.
McPherson, 24, the Sporting News minor league player of the year, hit .317 with 40 home runs between double-A Arkansas and triple-A Salt Lake. In 16 games with the Angels in September, he hit .225 with three home runs and 17 strikeouts in 40 at-bats.
"If we didn't have McPherson, it might be different," Stoneman said. "We've got a guy ready to break through at the major league level."
McPherson will earn slightly more than the $300,000 major league minimum in each of the next three seasons, assuming he remains on the team. Stoneman said Robb Quinlan, 27, another minimum-wage player who hit .344 in 56 games with the Angels, also would get time at third base.
Stoneman spoke Friday with Paul Cohen, the agent for Percival. On Thursday, as Percival filed for free agency, Cohen said a lack of communication from Stoneman led him to believe the Angels had no interest in retaining the closer.
Cohen said he had "a nice conversation" with Stoneman and expressed modest hope Percival might return to the Angels.
"I wouldn't say the door is closed," Cohen said.
"We're not through having conversations," Stoneman said. "I'll talk about it after we've hashed it out with Paul and Troy."
Stoneman also said he had received inquiries from several clubs interested in acquiring outfielder Jose Guillen, whom the Angels are expected to trade after suspending him for the final week of the season, following a confrontation with Manager Mike Scioscia.
After the Cleveland Indians got fed up with outfielder Milton Bradley last spring, they traded him to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers. Stoneman suggested he could get major league talent for Guillen, who hit .294 with 27 home runs and 104 runs batted in last season.
"I would expect that, if we decide to do something, we'll probably do pretty well," Stoneman said.
The Angels have until Nov. 15 to exercise 2005 options on Ortiz ($5.5 million) and catcher Bengie Molina ($3 million). They can decline either option for a $100,000 buyout and retain either player by offering salary arbitration.