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Tejada's call has Orioles' phone ringing

December 11, 2005|By Dave van Dyck

CHICAGO -

If the Baltimore Orioles indeed fulfill Miguel Tejada's desire to be traded this winter, the Cubs most likely would be among the long list of suitors.

Industry sources say several teams already have called the Orioles after Tejada's surprise request in an Associated Press story Thursday, and the Cubs are thought to be among them although there was no official confirmation. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry refused any comment Saturday.

The Cubs' interest would be one of those "duh" things, so logical you would presume it. Almost any team would want a former MVP shortstop who hit .304 with 26 homers and 98 RBI last season.

But the Cubs have more reasons than most other teams:

They have plenty of money to spend, and Tejada is owed $60 million for the next four years. Few teams would be willing to take on that kind of salary. The Cubs would.

They are least one power bat short in the lineup and Tejada has averaged 30 homers while playing every game of the last five seasons in Oakland and Baltimore. Those are numbers not even many outfielders can match. Acquiring Tejada, who bats right-handed, would mean the Cubs could go with more of a doubles-hitting batter in right field.

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They expect to start rookie Ronny Cedeno-who could not possibly equal Tejada statistics-at shortstop next season, although he would most likely play second base if Tejada were acquired.

The one real question is whether the Cubs would have enough talent to satisfy the Orioles, if they seriously begin discussions on trading the All-Star shortstop. The Orioles would like pitching but it's impossible to know exactly what the asking price would be from the Orioles because the Cubs don't have an equal-value contract to deal.

Of course, the Cubs would have competition from more than a handful of teams, including the Red Sox, who just traded their shortstop, Edgar Renteria.

Baltimore and Boston newspapers were full of Manny Ramirez-for-Tejada stories Saturday, a swap of two unhappy highly paid stars. Ramirez is making about $3 million more per season than Tejada but would the two teams take a chance of trading with an intra-division team?

Baltimore owner Peter Angelos told the Washington Post he would consider a trade within the division depending "on what you get back."

Orioles' executive vice president Mike Flanagan told Baltimore media that he would "not get involved in talking about trades or verifying trade discussions about Miguel. We don't comment on any player who may be up for a trade."

But Flanagan had spoken to Tejada's agents, who apparently did not back off from the trade request that came as a complete shock. The Orioles were just finishing with work at the winter meetings in Dallas when they heard about the story.

In fact, they were signing free agent catcher Ramon Hernandez to a four-year, $27.5 million deal. Hernanadez and Tejada are former teammates in Oakland and are the godfathers of each other's children. Both are also good friends with longtime Oriole Melvin Mora.

But Tejada reportedly is upset at the losing seasons in Baltimore and the lack of improvements after the team lost out on top free agents. After speaking with Tejada, Mora told the Post that Tejada didn't want to be traded, but "if the front office doesn't convince him they want to win, then he wants a trade."

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