The Orioles have signed 3B/SS Miguel Tejada to a one year contract worth $6 million plus performance incentives.
The return of Miguel Tejada comes at a bit of a surprise. When he was traded to Houston before the 2008 season for OF Luke Scott, LHP Troy Patton, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Dennis Sarfate, and CI Mike Constanzo the team and the fans seemed to be sick of the shortstop. His range was diminishing, his attitude was bad because he couldn’t deal with the losing, and he stopped running out groundballs. It was revealed after the trade that he had used steroids and was actually two years older than he had reported throughout his career. He had a down year in 2008 with the Astros, batting .283/.314/.415 with 38 doubles, 3 triples, and 13 homeruns. He bounced back in 2009 with a .313/.340/.455 line and led the league in doubles with 46 while hitting 14 homeruns.
The Orioles have signed Tejada to be the everyday third baseman with newly signed Garrett Atkins moving to first base despite the fact that hes never played the position in his MLB career, although he has played it in winter ball and the World Baseball Classic. He has the tools to be a good fielder on the hot corner but its going to take some time for him to adjust. The reason he isn’t seen as a shortstop is because he doesn’t have the range anymore, but he still has sure hands and a strong arm which are tools for a good third baseman. He’ll be used as a stopgap until Josh Bell is deemed ready, so the one year contract makes sense and $6 million is a fair deal – maybe even cheap. Tejada doesn’t have the power that he did from 2000 – 2006, but he still has the ability to hit the ball on a consistent basis and hit it hard. Hes another doubles hitter added to the lineup to go with Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis. Miggy doesn’t walk very much either with his on base percentage greatly dependent on his batting average. His walks have gone down as his power has diminished, hinting that pitchers don’t fear him as much as they used to.
I like the signing in general. It gives us a solid contact hitter to fill the void until Bell arrives and it also gives us some versatility. We don’t need to carry SS Robert Andino and his terrible hitting on the roster anymore because Tejada can move over to shortstop on the days Cesar Izturis needs a rest with Atkins or Ty Wigginton playing third and the other manning first. Its up to Dave Trembley to use this to the teams advantage, but it could provide us the opportunity to keep an extra hitter (Lou Montanez, Rhyne Hughes, etc.) for pinch hitting late in games as opposed to a guy that plays once a week. Spring Training should be interesting to see how Tejada’s glove comes along at his new position. The only thing remaining on Andy MacPhail’s offseason to do list would be picking up a left handed pitcher or two. I think theres a good chance Erik Bedard could be brought back. Mark Hendrickson and Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi are also options.