Jerry Dipoto said this week's general managers meetings were "like a setup," a chance to meet agents and GMs in the casual atmosphere of an Indian Wells resort and lay the groundwork for potential free-agent signings and trades, not to consummate deals.
"We tried to digest as much information as we could," the Angels GM said.
Some of that information might be hard to stomach. One report said pitcher Zack Greinke, the Angels' top winter target, is seeking a six-year, 150-million deal. Another said pitcher Anibal Sanchez, a quality right-hander but part of a not-so-appealing group of second-tier free-agent starters, wants six years and 90 million.
Dipoto, who would like to acquire at least two front-line starting pitchers, was neither scared off by nor overly concerned about what might be perceived as a sudden spike in the market.
"You're always going to get inflated expectations at the start of the off-season, not just for free agents but in the trade market," Dipoto said. "Nobody comes in and low-balls you. We're watching the landscape and will see how things unfold."
Dipoto met with Casey Close, Greinke's agent, this week but would not say much about negotiations with the right-hander who went 6-2 with a 3.53 earned-run average in 13 starts for the Angels after being acquired from Milwaukee for three prospects July 27.
"I'm not going to give you a progress report," Dipoto said. "The market doesn't run like that," he added, snapping his fingers.
With Rafael Soriano rejecting the New York Yankees' qualifying offer Friday and the Detroit Tigers reportedly not that interested in the relief ace, might the Angels aggressively pursue Soriano?
Don't count on it.
Yankees President Randy Levine said agent Scott Boras believes he can command a deal in the four-year, 60-million range for Soriano, who went 2-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 42 saves. Dipoto considers that kind of long-term investment in the volatile relief market to be extremely risky.
"You're never really looking for big-ticket items in the bullpen," Dipoto said. "You're looking for guys who can handle the role."
Dipoto did not pursue closers such as Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Madson last winter, going into the season with Jordan Walden as closer before acquiring Ernesto Frieri, who went 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 23 saves, from San Diego in early May.
"With starting pitchers, you have track records, and you have a good idea what you're going to get out of position players," Dipoto said in October. But spending lavishly on relievers "is akin to going to Las Vegas and throwing it down on double-zero green."
The Angels hired Tim Bogar to manage double-A Arkansas and former All-Star Mike Hampton as pitching coach. Bobby Scales has been hired as director of player development, and Michael Noboa as coordinator of Latin American operations.