The Los Angeles Angels on Monday traded shortstop Orlando Cabrera and $1.5 million to the Chicago White Sox for starter Jon Garland, a deal that has industry insiders speculating over what could be next for both teams.
"Orlando Cabrera, for me, is one of the best shortstops in baseball and Garland is a No. 3 starter," one insider said. "If you don't have something next, then I don't think it's a really good trade (for the Angels)."
The Angels have been active in trade talks for Florida's Miguel Cabrera and this could signal they are close. Depending on the players that go to Florida – second baseman Howie Kendrick, right-hander Nick Adenhart and lefty Joe Saunders have been rumored – the Angels would have Cabrera at third, Erick Aybar or Brandon Wood at shortstop and Chone Figgins or Maicer Izturis at second base.
Not to mention a stronger starting rotation with the addition of Garland, who won 18 games in each of the 2005 and 2006 seasons before slipping to 10-13 last year. Garland was nearly traded to the Angels after the 2001 season, but a deal that would have sent Darin Erstad to the White Sox for him was nixed by then-Angels president Tony Tavares.
"At the time, I was shocked," Garland said Monday. "It got turned around as quick as it happened. It kind of blew my mind."
Nearly six years later, Garland, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills, does get to come home.
"For me, it's a great opportunity to be able to show the West coast what my capabilities are," he said.
This is the beginning of what might become a bold offseason under first-year general manager Tony Reagins, who was promoted when the deliberate Bill Stoneman stepped down.
"What this means is it gives us opportunities to strengthen our club in other areas," Reagins said. "It gives us flexibility to look at other things. It opens up opportunities to do things down the line."
In addition to pursuing Cabrera, the Angels have had conversations with the Baltimore Orioles about Miguel Tejada. However, if the Angels are unable to acquire a strong bat, the trade weakens what already was a batting order in need of pop.
Cabrera is coming off his finest offensive season, in which he also won his second Gold Glove, setting career-high totals with 192 hits and 101 runs. He batted .301 with 35 doubles, eight home runs and 86 RBIs. His departure leaves another void in an Angels batting order that lacks a power hitter to bat behind slugger Vladimir Guerrero.
"He was disappointed because he loved Anaheim and the fans there," said Dan Lozano, Cabrera's agent. "But, it's time for a new start. He likes Chicago and thinks he's going to a playoff-contending team."
Both Cabrera, 33, and Garland, 28, have one year left on their contracts, Cabrera at $9 million and Garland at $12 million. The Angels might try to work out an extension with Garland, who has started 32 or more games each of the last seven seasons.
He would join a rotation of John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana, although manager Mike Scioscia left open the possibility that the talented but inconsistent Santana might move to the bullpen.
"We have considered Santana in relief," Scioscia said. "Right now, we are extremely happy to be able to acquire an arm like Jon's. It's exciting to get a guy who pitched in big games, and get pitching depth at a time when that's tough to do in baseball."
The White Sox would seem to have too much depth at shortstop because only two weeks ago they signed incumbent Juan Uribe through 2008. However, Uribe could be traded or used at second base or in a super utility role. They also believe they are front-runners for free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter, meaning they could drastically improve up the middle with Hunter and Cabrera.
For both clubs, in fact, the trade appeared to be only the first move in what could be an active winter.
"Tony's not done yet," Scioscia said of Reagins. "Let's see what happens before we settle in and see what our club will be."