The Angels had hoped to open spring training with Brandon Wood at third base and Chone Figgins in left field. If Wood faltered, Figgins could have returned to third base.
That safety net appears to be gone, with Figgins close to signing with the Seattle Mariners. The vacated leadoff spot could be filled internally, most likely by shortstop Erick Aybar, or perhaps with a trade for outfielder Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers.
Figgins is expected to sign for four years and close to $36 million, according to multiple media reports on Friday. The Angels reportedly offered three years at $24 million.
General Manager Tony Reagins declined to discuss his offer or say whether the Angels had refused to guarantee a fourth year. By late Friday afternoon, he said he had not heard from Figgins or his representatives that the Angels had been eliminated from consideration.
“They told me they’re very close to making a decision, one way or the other,” Reagins said. “We’ve made an offer. They’ve had a chance to evaluate it.”
Figgins emerged as a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman last season, and he has not played the outfield regularly since 2006. However, with Wood out of options and the Angels wanting to see what their perennial prospect can do in the major leagues, Reagins’ reaction to the probable departure of Figgins was telling.
“I think we have a good group of players that can play third base and left field,” Reagins said. “We have depth there. I think we’re covered.”
In August, Figgins said he would have had no problem moving to left field to clear third base for Wood. Reagins said the issue of position had not come up in his negotiations with Figgins.
“He was going to be in our lineup somewhere every day,” Reagins said.
Wood, 24, could provide some of the power that owner Arte Moreno has said he wants to add to the Angels’ lineup. In his last five minor league seasons — the last three at triple-A Salt Lake — Wood averaged 29 home runs.
However, in 236 at-bats over parts of three major league seasons, he has seven home runs and 74 strikeouts, with a .192 batting average.
“He’s been up and down so many times, he’s probably [ticked] off,” outfielder Torii Hunter said. “It makes you want to prove to people you can play.
“If he’s our third baseman, we’ve got to be patient with him. He’s got that power threat. He’s got a sure glove and a nice arm. Defensively, he’s good. Offense is where the question mark is.”
Maicer Izturis is the only other player on the roster with significant experience at third base, but he often is needed at second base and shortstop, so the Angels figure to pursue a versatile veteran infielder who could step in should Wood falter. Free agents who could fit include Ronnie Belliard, Jamey Carroll, Craig Counsell, Melvin Mora and Juan Uribe.
Adrian Beltre also is a free agent, and agent Scott Boras believes Beltre would be a good fit in Anaheim. But the Angels do not appear to be interested in blocking Wood again, or in paying anywhere near Beltre’s reported $10-million asking price when they are saving their money for pitching help.
As for replacing Figgins atop the order, the Angels’ options include Aybar, Izturis and Bobby Abreu.
Granderson is an experienced leadoff batter, and he could play left field, with Juan Rivera moving to right field and Abreu replacing Vladimir Guerrero at designated hitter.
Granderson posted on-base percentages of .365 two seasons ago and .361 three seasons ago. However, his .327 on-base percentage last season was lower than that of every Angels player with at least 300 at-bats.
Dodgers add pitcher
Right-hander Justin Miller agreed to a minor league contract with the Dodgers that includes an invitation to spring training.
Miller, 32, has played for three teams over six seasons. Known for his many tattoos, the Torrance native was 3-3 with a 3.18 earned-run average in 44 relief appearances for the San Francisco Giants last season. His career record is 24-14 with a 4.84 ERA.
Miller will earn a base salary of $850,000 if he makes the Dodgers’ major league roster and can make an additional $50,000 in incentives.