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Angels' owner not quite ready to see Lackey go

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Angels remain heavily in the mix for free-agent right-hander John Lackey — and the biggest reason for that might be their owner, Arte Moreno.
Club officials had all but decided to part with Lackey during the team's organizational meetings at the end of the regular season, according to multiple major-league sources. But Moreno, after watching Lackey pitch well in his three postseason starts against the Red Sox and Yankees, decided that the Angels should renew their efforts to sign him, the sources said. General manager Tony Reagins, when asked about the team's apparent reversal on Thursday, said that the Angels had not shifted course on Lackey. "He's been in our future plans since spring training as far as (contract) discussions go," Reagins said. "That hasn't wavered, hasn't changed. There was no change in our organizational meetings, and there's no change now." Lackey, however, has occasionally clashed with manager Mike Scioscia — most notably when Scioscia lifted him in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series — and brought attention to his teammates' mistakes with negative body language. The organization is split on whether to retain Lackey, with some club officials believing it simply might be time for him to move on, sources said. To some, though, Lackey's competitiveness is part of his appeal. And other factors might be influencing the thinking of Moreno and others who want to retain the pitcher:
  • The Blue Jays' price for right-hander Roy Halladay. The Angels were unable to strike a deal for Halladay last July, in part because of their reluctance to part with shortstop Erick Aybar. Aybar might again be a sticking point, and Halladay — who possesses full veto power over any trade — might prefer to go to an East Coast team nearer his home in Clearwater, Fla.
  • The rocky performance by left-hander Scott Kazmir in the postseason. If the Angels, upon trading for Kazmir, viewed him as a potential top-of-the-rotation replacement for Lackey, Kazmir's struggles in the playoffs likely gave them pause. Kazmir allowed nine runs in 10 innings in his two starts against the Red Sox and Yankees. However, he pitched on seven days rest in his first start, eight days rest in his second.
  • The sudden threat posed by the Mariners in the AL West. The Mariners, as reported by FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi, are the front-runners to sign free-agent third baseman Chone Figgins. They also are serious contenders for free-agent left fielder Jason Bay — and for Lackey. The losses of both Lackey and Figgins to the same AL West rival would be a huge blow to the Angels. The teams also are engaged in competing trade discussions for Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson and right-hander Edwin Jackson. Make no mistake, the M's are in position to spend. They had more than $45 million come off their payroll with the departures of third baseman Adrian Beltre, catcher Kenji Johjima and pitchers Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard and Miguel Batista. The team offered salary arbitration to Beltre, but he is expected to sign a multi-year deal with another club. Right-hander Felix Hernandez will be their only expensive arbitration case. Put it all together, and the Angels suddenly need to keep John Lackey, far more than they imagined at the end of the regular season. Far more than even Moreno knew.
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