Reagins feels positive leaving Nashville
GM departs Winter Meetings upbeat, even without Cabrera
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Angels departed the Winter Meetings having watched the big fish, Miguel Cabrera, get away, becoming the latest Tiger in Detroit's loaded offensive tank.
In a positive light, they still own Howie Kendrick, Reggie Willits, Maicer Izturis, Jeff Mathis, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Nick Adenhart and Brandon Wood -- not to mention Torii Hunter and Jon Garland.
Little wonder new Angels general manager Tony Reagins wasn't feeling too bluesy about missing out on Cabrera.
Visibly content with the big picture, Reagins was in a good mood as he prepared on Thursday to clear out of the lavish Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center and return home to sunny Southern California.
"We're very happy with our team," Reagins said. "We looked to see if we could improve. We targeted some points where we could strengthen our organization. Some things materialized here that we want to explore, but they're still in infancy.
"Before Spring Training, there are some things that could change. But it's still way too early [to tell]."
While he wouldn't reveal any specific targets, Reagins has targeted offense as an area of interest in recent interviews. But even if the 40-man roster he presides over today isn't altered by the time the team unloads the equipment in Tempe, Ariz., in February, Reagins likes the Angels' chances of defending their American League West title and playing deep into October 2008.
"We think we've done some exciting things for the organization in being able to acquire Torii Hunter and Jon Garland," he said, referring to the Thanksgiving week moves that landed one of the game's premier all-around players in Hunter and a two-time 18-game winner in Garland. "We're very happy with those two guys."
After landing Garland from the White Sox for shortstop Orlando Cabrera and signing Hunter as a free agent, Reagins and the front office focused most of their energy and activity over the past few weeks on Miguel Cabrera, a young hitter with few peers.
If there were plans B, C and D, they were pushed back and perhaps will be entertained in the weeks ahead. The Angels never got involved with the Twins over Johan Santana, knowing the long-term investment would be enormous with free agency on the horizon after the 2008 season for the great lefty who leads the Majors in wins, strikeouts and ERA over the past five seasons.
The negotiations with Florida took a number of turns, changing shapes and forms along the way. Another player -- not Dontrelle Willis -- came into the talks from Florida's side while the Angels tried to figure out if they could accommodate the Marlins with the right combination of players.
Kendrick, a .322 hitter last season, despite missing significant time with two separate finger fractures, was the name most prominently mentioned. Willits, Mathis, Izturis, Santana, Saunders, Adenhart and Wood also surfaced at one time or another as possible targets by the Marlins.
Eventually, Florida included Willis with Cabrera and settled on a Detroit package featuring southpaw starter Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin as linchpins of a six-player package of prospects.
"We gave up a lot, and we got a lot," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in the afterglow of the eight-player blockbuster.
Sometimes, as another baseball philosopher once observed, the best trades are the ones you don't make. That could be the case here if the young Angels who might have been dispatched to Florida for Cabrera go on to have successful careers, helping drive the club to a World Series title or two.
That cheerful prospect explains why Reagins was smiling, not frowning, as he left his first Winter Meetings as general manager of the Angels.
Deals done: None during the Winter Meetings; earlier signed outfielder Hunter to a five-year contract worth $90 million; traded shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the White Sox for Garland.
Rule 5 activity: The Angels did not claim any players. In the Double-A Draft, they lost right-handed reliever Rafael Cruz Chavez (from their Class A Cedar Rapids roster) to Pittsburgh, right-handed reliever/spot starter Francisco Cordova (Cedar Rapids) to Texas and first baseman Baltazar Lopez (Class A Rancho Cucamonga) to Arizona. All three played in the Mexican League in 2007.
Goals accomplished: Before the meetings, the Angels upgraded their offense and defense with the Hunter signing and added a durable third starter in Garland, gaining the luxury of six starters to help in a potential deal down the road.
Unfinished business: Missing out on Miguel Cabrera, the Angels feel they laid the groundwork for a possible deal, probably for offense, in the weeks ahead.
GM's bottom line: "I liked our team when we came here, and I like our team now. With Hunter and Garland, we feel we're a better club than we were when we finished the season -- and we'll continue to look at ways to get better." -- Reagins, departing the Winter Meetings without Miguel Cabrera but optimistic about 2008
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.