Angels right-hander Dan Haren throws a pitch against the Athletics on Sept.… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Teammates call Torii Hunter the "heart and soul" of the Angels, and the popular right fielder practically carried the club during its recent September playoff push, but it appears Hunter's distinguished five-year run in Anaheim will end.
The Angels did not make a $13.3-million "qualifying offer" to Hunter on Friday, a decision that does not preclude Hunter from returning to Anaheim but may have pushed him out the door.
Later Friday night, veteran pitcher Dan Haren got the boot. After a trade with the Chicago Cubs for closer Carlos Marmol fell through, the Angels declined Haren's $15.5-million option for 2013, buying it out for $3.5 million and making the right-hander a free agent.
"Anything is possible," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said, when asked if he would continue to talk with Hunter and Haren, "but I can't say anything is likely."
Dipoto said the Angels will go with a younger and much cheaper starting outfield of Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos next season, with underachieving Vernon Wells, who is owed $42 million over the next two years, in reserve.
The team also wants to retain enough financial flexibility to pursue free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke, who could command a deal in the five-year, $120-million range.
"Torii is an asset to the club, to the community, but we also have Trout, Trumbo, Bourjos and Wells, and you have to have a logical conclusion as to how those pieces fit together on a 25-man roster and payroll," Dipoto said.
"It wasn't that we couldn't fit Torii's salary in. We made the decision to allow Trout, Trumbo and Bourjos to play on an every-day basis."
The Angels can continue to negotiate with Hunter, 37, but so can 29 other teams. After hitting .313 with 16 home runs and 92 runs batted in last season, Hunter should have plenty of suitors.
"The chances of me remaining with the Angels," Hunter said, "are dwindling."
If Hunter, whose five-year, $90-million contract expired, signs elsewhere, the Angels will not receive draft-pick compensation. The Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers have already shown serious interest in Hunter.
"At this point, I'm a free agent," Hunter said. "It has nothing to do with the love I have for the organization, the fans and my teammates, I have to take care of business on this side."
Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, said he would take a significant pay cut to remain. In late September, as Hunter was completing a month in which he hit .345 with 27 RBIs in 29 games, Angels owner Arte Moreno told the team's radio station, "If we don't figure out a way to re-sign him, we're going to get hung, aren't we?"
But when asked to characterize negotiations with the Angels, Hunter said, "There weren't any. It doesn't surprise me because they have so many financial constraints with Wells' contract. Their hands are tied."
Dipoto said he spent the last 10 days trying to trade Haren, and he appeared to be on the verge of a deal Friday afternoon with the Cubs, with Marmol going so far as to tell a reporter in the Dominican Republic he had waived his no-trade clause to come to Anaheim.
Several media outlets reported the deal was done, but a source familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly about them told The Times that "contrary to reports, there is no deal between the Angels and Cubs."
Haren, who went 12-13 with a 4.33 earned-run average and was slowed by lower-back tightness said in an email he had "not heard anything" from the Angels or Cubs."
About all Dipoto would say of the trade was, "Obviously, it didn't happen."