By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 10, 2005
In private conversations on Monday between the Orioles and Miguel Tejada's representatives, the shortstop's trade demand first surfaced and Baltimore, according to one team source, has begun listening to offers for their superstar. The Boston Red Sox, likely offering Manny Ramirez, could be a suitor, and the idea of a Tejada for Ramirez deal has not been dismissed by Baltimore. Several teams have already expressed interest but Boston may be the best fit.
"It is a logical suggestion," one team official said of the Tejada-for-Ramirez possibility. "It does seem unlikely. But who knows?"
Baltimore owner Peter Angelos, who doesn't necessarily want to trade Tejada, said he would be reluctant to take on the approximately $60 million Ramirez is owed for the next three seasons, but never said he would reject a deal for the Boston outfielder. If the Ramirez for Tejada -- who is owed approximately $60 million for the next four years -- rumors are to gain momentum, it's likely that the Red Sox would have to offer to pay for some of the difference in annual salary.
"I'd find it difficult to justify a $20 million salary per year for anybody," Angelos said. "The economics of the game don't support that type of salary for any player."
The Red Sox have already made overtures, and Angelos said he wouldn't have a problem trading Tejada to an American League East team if that's what the front office desired.
"It all depends on what you get back in return," he said.
But it's unknown whether Ramirez, who has a full no-trade clause in his contract, would accept a trade to Baltimore. Regardless, Boston seems eager to try to acquire Tejada, who is admired by Red Sox Manager Terry Francona, a former bench coach in Oakland where Tejada spent seven seasons. Tejada also is close friends with Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, and both have the same representation.
"Boston is hopping on him," one baseball official said.
The landscape involving Tejada significantly changed on Thursday night when an Associated Press report quoted the shortstop as saying he wanted to be traded. Some people, including some of his teammates, wondered if the quotes -- which seemed uncharacteristic of Tejada -- had been taken out of context. But conversations between Baltimore and Tejada's representatives proved Tejada wants to be traded and a team official said the Orioles were told, "He wasn't going to change his mind."
Tejada's representatives did not return several phone calls.
It appears that Tejada at the least is trying to force the Orioles to make several roster changes this offseason, a tactic that has displeased the Baltimore front office. Through third baseman Melvin Mora, Tejada said he was showing his frustration in part because of his affection for Baltimore fans.
"He just wants to tell everyone it has nothing to do with the city or the fans," said Mora, who spoke to Tejada on Monday afternoon. "He saw the Toronto Blue Jays getting big names and saw all the teams spending money and we don't do anything. He feels he wants to give more to Baltimore fans. He doesn't want to be traded. He loves Baltimore and the fans. If the front office doesn't convince him they want to win, then he wants a trade."
Angelos disputed Tejada's assessment that the team hasn't made enough moves to win, saying he couldn't justify throwing millions at closer B.J. Ryan and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, who both signed with Toronto.
"[Tejada] has only been here two years, so I don't know what he's talking about," Angelos said. "We're not spending $50 million on a closer who's been a closer for only one year and $55 million for a guy who hasn't won more than 12 games in a year. If that's what his criticism is based on, it just shows he wouldn't be a great general manager."
There have been communication problems with the Orioles and Tejada since the end of the season. As of Monday evening Orioles Executive Vice President Mike Flanagan, who declined to comment on Tejada's status on the team, had not spoken with the shortstop but only with his representatives. Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said the team had been trying to get the shortstop on the phone but had difficulties because he was in the Dominican Republic. But only a few minutes after Stetka had made the point, Mora, who is on vacation in Puerto Rico, called a reporter to say he had just talked to Tejada.
In late November, Orioles Vice President Jim Duquette, while on a trip to the Dominican Republic, wanted to see Tejada but was never able to set up a meeting. Within the last week the Orioles, according to a team source, finally spoke with Tejada, who voiced his desire for the team to acquire free agents Olmedo Saenz and Erubiel Durazo, who are both represented by Tejada's agents. The Orioles did not have much interest in either player.
The timing of the trade request seems peculiar considering the Orioles are on the verge of announcing the signing of Ramon Hernandez, who was Tejada's teammate with Oakland for five seasons. Tejada is the godfather of one of the catcher's children.
Mora said Tejada was aware of the signing of Hernandez, but said, "I think that's not good enough for him."