I really like what the Baltimore Orioles have done this offseason. They have brought in a nice group of veterans to mix in with the young and up-and-coming talent they have.
The key to what they are doing is they are not signing any of these veteran players to contracts that could be considered an albatross down the road. These veterans are on one or two-year contracts and aren’t blocking any of the prospects the Orioles have in the minors.
The latest veteran the Orioles have brought in–Miguel Tejada.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have signed Tejada to a one-year, $6 million contract. Despite never playing an inning at third base in his career, Tejada is expected to play third for the Orioles in 2010.
This will mark Tejada’s second tour of duty with the Orioles. Baltimore signed Tejada back in the Winter of 2004 and spent four years in an Orioles’ uniform.
In those four years, Tejada hit .311 (great band) with 102 home runs, and an .862 OPS. Tejada was later traded to the Houston Astros in December of 2007 for Mike Costanzo, Matt Albers, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, and Luke Scott.
Despite signing third baseman Garrett Atkins earlier in the offseason, the Orioles were still looking for a corner infielder to play either third or first. Tejada fills exactly what the Orioles were looking for.
Tejada really dropped off defensively in 2009 (-13.9 UZR), so moving to third will help prolong his career. As I recall the Orioles moved another shortstop back in the day to third to help prolong his career and it worked swimmingly.
The Tejada signing allows the Orioles to move Atkins to first, where he is better suited and Luke Scott back to DH. Ty Wigginton is the odd man out here, as he will be moved into a bench role.
With Tejada and Atkins signed to one-year contracts, it will give top prospects Josh Bell (third base) and Brandon Snyder (first base) some extra seasoning in the minors until they are ready to take over full-time in 2011. Once again, the Orioles sign a veteran, but aren’t blocking their prospects.
I expect Tejada to bat fifth or sixth in the Orioles’ lineup and hit around .285/.290 with 10-15 home runs in 2010. At $6 million, this signing will pay for itself by July. Good signing by the Orioles.
This move also ends the Orioles pursuit of first baseman Carlos Delgado.
Tejada will be entering his 14th season in the major leagues and has a career .289 average with 285 home runs with the Oakland A’s, Orioles, and Astros. He won the 2002 AL MVP with the A’s.
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