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Phillies trying to deal Abreu for Tejada

January 07, 2006|By Knight Ridder

PHILADELPHIA -

"Now playing third base for the Phillies, Miguel Tejada."

It sure sounds like a great idea, except for one significant hurdle: Tejada doesn't want to play third base.

Two major-league sources on Friday confirmed a report that the Phillies have offered rightfielder Bobby Abreu to the Baltimore Orioles for Tejada, the all-star shortstop who is seeking a trade to a potential contending team.

The Phillies, who have their own all-star shortstop in Jimmy Rollins, would like to play Tejada at third base. Trading Rollins or changing his position does not appear to be in the cards.

According to a person close to Tejada, Phillies officials have reached out to Tejada's camp to see if the 2002 American League most valuable player would make a move to third base.

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In no uncertain terms, the Phillies were told that Tejada would not move to third base and that he would opt out of his contract after the 2006 season if he were forced to do so. Tejada, 29, has played all but three of his 1,260 major-league games at shortstop and averaged 30 homers and 118 RBI the last six seasons.

While unlikely, the proposed deal is not dead. Tejada does not have a no-trade clause. The Orioles can send him wherever they want, and Tejada would seemingly have to play whichever position his new team assigned him.

However, players traded in the middle of multiyear contracts have the right to demand a trade or become a free agent after playing just one season with their new team. Dealing Abreu, and possibly a young pitcher, for a player who says he'll walk after one year wouldn't make much sense for the Phillies.

There is another hurdle in the potential deal: Unlike Tejada, Abreu does have a no-trade clause. As of Friday afternoon, the Phillies hadn't approached Abreu about waiving it, but it is likely he'd require the $18 million option on his contract for 2008 be guaranteed before accepting a deal.

Abreu is guaranteed $31 million through the 2007 season. Tejada has about $54 million remaining on a six-year deal signed before the 2004 season.

Asked about the possible deal on Friday, Phils general manager Pat Gillick said: "We don't comment on rumors."

In the proposed deal, it is likely the Phillies would also try to get a much-needed setup man for their bullpen, possibly LaTroy Hawkins. The Orioles are seeking some pitching in return for Tejada, and it's possible the Phillies would be willing to include Robinson Tejeda. Another name that might intrigue the Orioles is Gavin Floyd, a Baltimore native. Floyd, the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft, had a disappointing season at triple A in 2005, but there are people in the Phillies organization who believe it's way too early to give up on the 6-foot-4 righthander, who turns 23 this month.

The Phils have spent much of this winter seeking starting pitching. If a deal could be struck with Baltimore, the Phillies could possibly spin Tejada for a top starter. The Chicago Cubs are interested in Tejada, and there have been indications that they'd be willing to part with Mark Prior to get him. The Phillies, however, seem lukewarm about Prior because of his health record. The Phils asked about Carlos Zambrano earlier this winter, but the Cubs are unlikely to deal him.

The Boston Red Sox have also been interested in Tejada, but the Phils aren't wowed by Matt Clement, the pitcher the Red Sox have made available.

Extra bases. Gillick is actively looking for a setup man. He said that the team considered Octavio Dotel before the righthander signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Yankees. "We were interested," Gillick said. "But (trainer) Jeff Cooper got a copy of the medical report and didn't like it." Dotel had Tommy John elbow surgery in May. ... The Phillies claimed outfielder Josh Kroeger, 23, off waivers from Arizona on Friday, and he was added to the 40-man roster. Kroeger hit .261 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs for triple-A Tucson last season.

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