By Ronald Blum
ORLANDO, Fla. - While other teams play down their interest, the Los Angeles Angels admit they'd love to sign Alex Rodriguez.
The Angels had a meet-and-greet with A-Rod's agent, Scott Boras, at the general managers' meetings. The New York Mets also spoke with Boras but won't say whether they're in or out of the competition.
Tony Reagins, who just took over as the Angels' GM, had glowing words for A-Rod.
"We had an initial conversation with Scott, and it was introductory," he said Wednesday. "He probably makes any team that he's a part of better."
Reagins said if talks progressed, the Angels would welcome a chance to speak with Rodriguez. Reagins acknowledged marketing, as well as baseball skills, would play a role in a decision to sign A-Rod.
"In this day and age, I think that is a part of it," he said.
While the Mets have the cash to sign Rodriguez, they haven't committed to making an offer. Likely to win his third AL MVP award, Rodriguez is expected to sign a deal topping the record $252 million, 10-year contract the Texas Rangers gave him before the 2001 season. Before A-Rod opted out of that agreement, Boras told the New York Yankees they had to offer $350 million just to get a meeting with the third baseman.
Other possible destinations are thought to include the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. All those teams say that they're not interested at this point.
On the next-to-last day of the four-day gathering, closer Brad Lidge was traded by the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies along with infielder Eric Bruntlett for speedy outfielder Michael Bourn, right-hander Geoff Geary and minor league third baseman Mike Costanzo. Other big names in the news included Miguel Cabrera, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine and Kenny Rogers.
GMs decided Thursday that first- and third-base coaches will wear some sort of head protection during games next season, an action taken four months after Colorado's Mike Coolbaugh was killed when he was struck on the neck by a line drive in a minor league game.
No formal vote was taken. Joe Garagiola, senior vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said GMs will decide on the exact form of protection when they meet next month at the winter meetings.
Atlanta said it would like to bring back Tom Glavine after a five-year absence. New general manager Frank Wren spoke with the two-time Cy Young Award winner and his agent, Gregg Clifton, and Wren intends to call again next week, after teams can start making offers to free agents.