Big, big, BIG news out of St. Petersberg. According to what is now multiple sources, Arte Moreno and other members of the Angels top brass have been in the Tampa area the last day or two and were at one point seen dining with their golden boy general manager Andrew Friedman, via DRays Bay:
On Tuesday night, one of our readers was at a restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg when he saw Andrew Friedman dining with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim team owner Arte Moreno and another individual he later identified as team president John Carpino. This individual lives locally so Friedman is no strange face to him, and he immediately recognized Moreno when walking by their table. Both he and the friend he was dining with feel extremely confident in what they saw, and confirmed after another walk-by and an internet search that the third person at the table was team president John Carpino.
I know I titled this post as a rumor, but the updates to that original post provide additional confirmation that the meeting did happen, so this isn't some random dude claiming to see Theo Epstein ordering a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks (although that kind of worked, didn't it?). For those who might somehow be unfamiliar with Friedman, he is currently considered, in most circles, the best GM in all of baseball because of the fantastic work he has done with the Rays. His profile is creeping close the same profile Billy Beane once had during the peak of the Moneyball A's, so it is no wonder the Angels appear to be interested in him. It is also worth noting that Friedman works without a contract, so he is free to leave the Rays at any time without compensation. Like Beane, at the time, everyone expects Friedman to jump ship sooner or later, although most figured he would take the vacancy that is expected to open in his hometown of Houston if/when the sale of the Astros is ever finalized.
The delay in that sale could prove to be to the Angels' advantage. I would have to think Friedman would have a surprising comfort level with the Angels based on the Scioscia-Maddon connection and the fact that he has made deals with the Angels before. Obviously Reagins is gone, but Friedman surely got an idea for how the Angels work and would go into the job with a plan already. Of course, this assumes that he is willing to take the job and that he is even interested.
Not to throw water on this whole thing, but there is a slight possibility that the Angels were in town for other reasons, specifically that Friedman's assistant GM, Gerry Hunsicker, was originally viewed as a prime candidate for the Angel job. It is entirely possible that Moreno came to town with the idea of talking to Hunsicker and figured he might as well take a run at Friedman while he was there. Perhaps Friedman is really interested or maybe he is just humoring Arte so that he can later lobby him to give Hunsicker the job instead.
At any rate, this is all nothing but speculation, but it is clearly a situation worth monitoring because getting Friedman would be a massive coup for the Angels.
(FYI, Friedman is now added to our GM poll, so go ahead and vote for him rigorously)