LAS VEGAS – Two American League Central teams have discussed trading for shortstop Miguel Tejada, whom the Houston Astros are dangling as they try to cut payroll, a source said Monday at the winter meetings.
The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins have similar tacks regarding the 34-year-old Tejada: Both teams have holes on the left side of their infields, and both would expect Houston to eat a significant portion of Tejada's $13 million contract for 2009. Problem is, that would partially negate the Astros' incentive to unload a player whose production is declining but who still batted .283 with 13 home runs and 92 runs scored last season.
Cleveland's ability to trade for Tejada depends on how it fills its closer role. Should the Indians pursue free agent Brian Fuentes, they likely would not be able to afford Tejada, who is a free agent after the 2009 season. If the Indians opt for less expensive free agent Trevor Hoffman or trade for J.J. Putz, their budget would likely allow for a discounted Tejada.
Where he would fit with the Indians is unknown. Cleveland's incumbent shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, has played third base in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, and the Indians would like to move slick-fielding Asdrubal Cabrera to shortstop from second base. Tejada's winnowing range has long portended a move to third base.
Minnesota enters 2009 without an everyday shortstop. The Twins have discussed trading outfielder Delmon Young, and Philadelphia recently showed interest, with shortstop prospect Jason Donald the likely match. Were the Twins to more doggedly pursue Tejada, the source said, Houston would prefer one of its young starting pitchers, likely a minor leaguer.