On the surface, Miguel Tejada for Manny Ramirez seemed smart. Both wanted out of town and both could help their new clubs. Then, the Orioles wanted a pitcher included in the deal, but they have rejected Ramirez and Matt Clement for Tejada. In all likelihood, the Orioles are more concerned about dealing within the division than they are about the exact package that they get in return. Next, they turned down Mark Prior for Tejada. Perhaps they had an inkling about Prior's contract decision or perhaps, they just didn't consider it a fair deal.
So, could the Phillies and Orioles make a deal work? Let's take a look at some of the issues surrounding the possible deal.
Usually the first thing that you have to consider is the money. Abreu is due $31.5 million over the next two seasons, but $2.5 million of that is a buyout on the 2008 season. If his '08 option were to be picked up, Abreu would make $16 million for that season, meaning that he would be owed $45 million for three years. Tejada on the other hand has four years remaining on his six-year deal that he signed with the Orioles. He is owed $48 million for four years. Since both Tejada and Abreu have no-trade clauses, Abreu might demand that his option year for 2008 be guaranteed. The Orioles would be likely to give into that demand if it were made. As for Tejada waiving his no-trade clause, he doesn't have any option years on his deal, so he doesn't have a bargaining chip there. He could possibly want to renegotiate the deal and get an extra year or more money from the Phillies, but it's not likely that the Phillies would be too willing to do that. All Tejeda has said is that he wants to play for a contender. Both teams also have to consider that since both players are in the middle of multi-year contracts, either or both could demand a trade after the 2006 season. Since both teams would share equally in that gamble, that might not enter into it, but it's something that both teams need to consider.
When you think about the money, consider that the Phillies might be able to move David Bell and at least part of his $4.5 million contract for 2006 if they had Tejada to play at third base.
Age: Abreu turns 32 in March. Tejada turns 30 in May.
Average: Abreu has a career average of .303 and has hit .300 or better in six of the last eight seasons. He is coming off a season where he hit .286 and played in all 162 games for the Phillies. In fact, Abreu has played in all but 41 games over his eight seasons in Philadelphia. Tejada is a career .280 hitter, but has hit .300 or better in three of the last four seasons. Tejada has played in all 162 games for five straight seasons and has missed just five games in the last seven years since becoming an everyday player with the A's.
Power Numbers: Abreu has 190 career homeruns and an average of 24 per year in his time with Philadelphia. Tejada has 216 career homeruns and has averaged 29 homeruns since becoming an everyday player in 1999.
Stolen Bases: Not even a comparison. Abreu has much more stolen base ability than Tejada and has swiped an average of 33 per season. Tejada has a total of 58 stolen bases in his career.
Defense: Abreu has a career fielding percentage of .982 and the average for NL outfielders during Abreu's career is .980. Abreu won his first Gold Glove Award in 2005. Abreu has a range factor of 1.93 compared to a league average of 1.71 during his career. As for Tejada, he has a career fielding percentage of .970 compared to a league average of .972 for AL shortstops and a range factor of 4.64 compared to a 4.15 league average. Tejada also has no Gold Glove Awards to his credit. There's no telling how Tejada would handle the duties at third base. He has good range and a solid arm, so he may be able to make the move without much trouble, but there is bound to be an adjustment period. You would have to figure on seeing Abraham Nunez a lot in late inning defensive situations.
Where does he play? The idea is that the Phillies would move Tejada - a career shortstop - to third base. Can he play there? Nobody knows. Would he play there? Nobody knows. It's part of the factoring that Tejada would have to do when he thinks about his no-trade clause. In other words, if he doesn't want to move, he could just block the deal. If the Phillies have any thoughts on the plan, perhaps they can talk to the Washington Nationals and see how that Alfonso Soriano move to the outfield is going.
One scenario that popped up is for the Phillies to send Jimmy Rollins along in the deal, clearing a spot for Tejada. In return, the Orioles would send a young pitcher back to Philadelphia. Not likely to happen. The Phillies value Rollins too much and the Orioles are looking to get pitching, not trade it away. Speaking of which...
Name The Phillies Right Fielder: There would be a gaping hole in the Phillies outfield. Considering that the Phillies have been shopping Jason Michaels this winter and telling teams to look at him as a starting outfielder and not a utility guy, maybe they would just put him in right field. Ryan Howard could move to the out... never mind! A platoon of Michaels and highly touted Shane Victorino could possibly work. Plus, there's Chris Roberson moving closer and closer to being "major league ready", as is Michael Bourn. Or, David Bell may possibly bring an outfielder - granted, not a future Hall of Famer - but an outfielder, nonetheless, to the Phillies in a deal. The bottom line is that the Phillies could probably make it work.
Just for the record, here are Jason Michaels stats when he played in a career-high 115 games in 2004:
Both Teams Want Pitching: Generally, when Pat Gillick has talked of trading Bobby Abreu, he's talked of getting that top-of-the-rotation starter in return. Plus, the Orioles have badgered teams to send them pitching if they want to get Tejada. This deal doesn't satisfy any of the pitching needs. Some reports say the O's want to get the Phillies to either throw in some young - cheap - pitching, or expand the deal so they can get pitching as part of a package. The Phillies have been drooling over Orioles pitcher Eric Bedard, but since Baltimore wants pitching, it's not likely that's going to happen anytime soon.
The Spin Game: The Orioles didn't like getting Mark Prior in exchange for Tejada, but would the Phillies do the deal? It's possible, if they were given time to work out a long-term deal with Prior and if they were successful. Again, would Tejada accept a deal to Chicago? That's something that the Phillies would likely have to ask before making the first part of the deal to get Tejada. Let's hope they would think of that. It's likely that the Orioles would insist that the Phillies give their word not to send Tejada to another AL East team for at least a season, blocking a deal with Boston, which is okay, since we wouldn't want Manny Ramirez and his baggage. What if the Phillies were to spin Tejada - or Rollins for that matter - to San Francisco for Jason Schmidt. The Phillies would want a guarantee on Schmidt's health and again, there are those pesky no-trade clauses.
Long-Term Issues: The way things stand now, Tejada's contract would be up after the 2009 season. Hmmm... How far away is Mike Costanzo? The Phillies first pick in last June's draft was at Batavia last summer and will likely start at Lakewood in 2006. If he moved one level per year, he would play the 2009 season at AAA. Odds are he could move a little quicker than that, but the timing isn't bad for Costanzo to possibly move right in to third base after Tejada's career. There are plenty of good, young outfielders in the Phillies' system, so filling right field should only be an issue - if it is an issue - for a season or two, tops. Roberson, Bourn, Jake Blalock, Greg Golson, the list is an impressive one and Abreu would likely not be missed too much for too long.
Now, the Phillies and Orioles have talked and the original deal was Bobby Abreu for Tejada. Following their usual fashion, the Orioles have reportedly asked for a pitcher - preferably, one of the young, inexpensive pitchers - for Tejada. Let's start there; Would the Phillies include a pitcher to make the deal work? It's possible, but not very likely. The Phillies do have some young pitchers and might possibly include a Robinson Tejeda or maybe even Gavin Floyd in the package, but it would take a lot of thought and consideration. Now, if they knew they could spin Tejada for Prior signed long-term or for a healthy Jason Schmidt, then maybe they would include a young pitcher.
Is Bobby Abreu for Miguel Tejada likely?
You always have to be wary of rumors on blockbuster deals. As we've shown, there is a lot that can go wrong. One simple "I'm not going" by either Tejada or Abreu and the whole thing is off. There is a basis though for expanding this deal to include the Cubs, Giants or perhaps some other club and maybe getting pitching from them for both the Phillies and Orioles to make this work. Generally speaking, an even-up deal benefits the Phillies, but that's not to say that there wouldn't be some good to come out of it for Baltimore as well. Look to hear of the Orioles pushing for pitching as part of the deal, pointing to the fact that the Red Sox were willing to include pitching, so the Phillies should be as well. Abreu and a deal with the Phillies rather than Manny Ramirez and a deal with the Red Sox certainly seems more likely and palatable for the Orioles to swallow.