The Florida Marlins want the Angels to include second baseman Howie Kendrick in any trade package for third baseman Miguel Cabrera, raising the possibility that the Angels might respond by asking for permission to negotiate with Cabrera and making their best trade offer contingent on reaching a contract extension with him.
The Angels and Dodgers are among several clubs interested in Cabrera, 24, a four-time All-Star who would dramatically upgrade the cleanup spot on either local team. The Marlins are believed to want three high-ceiling, low-cost players in exchange for Cabrera, who is two years from free agency.
The Marlins could ask the Angels for Kendrick and their top two prospects, third baseman Brandon Wood and pitcher Nick Adenhart. With Kendrick in the deal, the Marlins would get the Angels' best young hitter to go along with two players who might not break camp with Florida or might struggle if they do.
If the Angels acquire Cabrera, they could replace Kendrick by moving Chone Figgins from third base to second, although they would weaken their defense at both positions.
Cabrera could earn about $12 million in arbitration next season and $15 million in 2009. The Angels might be willing to sweeten their trade package if they could negotiate a contract extension with Cabrera, perhaps by buying out three years of free agency for about $60 million.
With the Angels, Dodgers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians all interested in Cabrera, the Marlins could reject any team that demands a negotiating window with Cabrera. Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti would not discuss Cabrera in particular but indicated he could do a deal without such a window.
"I don't think you negotiate a window with someone not on the verge of free agency," Colletti said.
As the general managers' meetings closed Thursday in Orlando, Fla., Colletti also said he spoke briefly with Scott Boras, the agent for third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the biggest attraction in free agency. Tony Reagins, the Angels' general manager, met with Boras earlier in the meetings.
Cabrera could be an interesting addition to a Dodgers clubhouse that fractured between veterans and young players last season. In 2005, Cabrera occasionally skipped shagging fly balls during batting practice, then reported late to the ballpark twice in four days, prompting veterans to criticize his work ethic.
"[Forget] the veterans," Cabrera told the Palm Beach Post. "They haven't told me anything and they better not come tell me anything, either. I don't want to hear anything else. I want to play baseball, give what I have to give on the field of play and win. That's all I want."
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.