Angels love Greinke, but Shields may be more realistic

The Angels continue to chase high-end starting pitching, and continue to be involved with all of the Big 3 starters on the market: Zack Greinke, James Shields and Josh Johnson.

Greinke might be the one they like the most, and they dream of the idea of putting him in a playoff rotation with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren. Shields might be the one who is their most realistic target.

"They'd be very happy to end up with Shields," said one source who has knowledge of the Angels plans.

The Angels aren't sure that their prospects match up well with those of the other teams pursuing Greinke. They also worry about the cost of signing Greinke long-term, considering that he has already turned down more than $100 million from the Brewers, and considering that the Angels already have two starters (Weaver and Wilson) who will average nearly $20 million apiece over the next four seasons.

Shields, by contrast, would come with a relatively affordable $9 million option for next season.

In any case, the Angels would prefer to obtain a pitcher they can keep beyond this season. They have a $15.5 million option on Haren for 2013, and a $13 million option on Ervin Santana.

They're certain to decline the option on the disappointing Santana. In a perfect world, they'd find someone to take both Santana and surplus outfielder Vernon Wells off their hands right now, even though it would obviously require eating almost all of both salaries.

Besides Greinke and Shields, the Angels also like Johnson, but have concerns about his health history and about the cost of his $13.75 million contract for next year. Also, the Marlins have made it clear that they want "a Teixeira-like" package of prospects for Johnson, and that's something the Angels would have a hard time assembling.

Pitcher Garrett Richards and outfielder Peter Bourjos are the Angels' two biggest trade chips, but dealing one or both of them poses some problems. The Angels view Richards as the affordable counterweight in what will be an otherwise very expensive rotation.

The Angels had interest earlier in Francisco Liriano, but that interest appears to have cooled dramatically.

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