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Torii Hunter, Dan Haren doubtful about their futures with Angels

Decisions have to be made by Friday. Hunter's re-signing might be tied to Vernon Wells' big contract. Haren has a feeling he'll be traded.

November 01, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Outfielder Torii Hunter had a .313 average and 92 RBIs last season for the Angels while starting pitcher Dan Haren had a 12-13 record with a 4.33 earned-run average but was bothered by lower back tightness.
Outfielder Torii Hunter had a .313 average and 92 RBIs last season for the… (Associated Press and Getty…)

Right fielder Torii Hunter and pitcher Dan Haren are pessimistic about their chances of remaining with the Angels as a 9 p.m. Friday deadline for decision making looms.

The Angels and Hunter have made little progress in contract talks, and the chances of the team extending him a $13.3-million "qualifying offer" appear slim, according to a person familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly about them.

"It's kind of disappointing, but what are you going to do?" Hunter said by phone from Texas. "If they don't make an offer by Friday, I guess I'm out of there."

The Angels could actually still sign Hunter if they don't make a qualifying offer, but they would not have exclusive negotiating rights to the 37-year-old, who hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 runs batted in and carried the team for much of September.

Though Hunter is willing to take a significant pay cut from his $18-million salary and owner Arte Moreno and General Manager Jerry Dipoto say they want him back, there appears to be a major obstacle: the $42 million outfielder Vernon Wells is owed for the next two years.

If Dipoto can find a way to trade Wells — a tall task considering Wells' hefty salary and .222 average, 36 homers and 95 RBIs over the last two years — it probably would clear enough payroll to re-sign Hunter.

"It's weird, but it's real — that's the business side that people don't like," Hunter said, when asked if his fate with the Angels could be tied to a Wells trade. "Sometimes you have good people you want to keep and there's something that ties the organization down that doesn't allow it to keep that player."

The Angels must also decide by Friday whether to exercise Haren's $15.5-million option for 2013 or decline it for a $3.5-million buyout.

The team is actively shopping Haren in hopes of netting a return before he becomes a free agent, and several teams, including the Boston Red Sox, reportedly are interested.

The Angels faced the same decision Wednesday with Ervin Santana and traded the pitcher to Kansas City for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk.

"I'm kind of getting the feeling that I'll be traded," Haren said in an email. "I have no specifics on teams, but that's the vibe I'm getting. It's a little bit disappointing that I won't get to pick where I want to go, but I'm the one who signed on for the option year."

Haren had a 12-13 record with a 4.33 earned-run average last season and was bothered by lower-back tightness.

Dipoto's top priority is to re-sign free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke, and if he can't trade Haren by Friday it's doubtful he'll exercise the option.

Haren said he'd be willing to return on a one-year deal that was "fair" for both sides. "I think the cost of replacing me as the No. 4 starter, if they got Zack or someone else, wouldn't be too great," Haren said, "and it would only be for one year."

Short hops

Sisk, the left-hander acquired from the Royals, threw only 2 2/3 innings in three games in the Venezuelan winter league before returning to the U.S. because of tenderness in his throwing arm. The injury is believed to be minor.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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