Lots to talk about since the last time we looked at the free agency market. In this profile of what kind of deal Miguel Tejada may get, I thought it prudent to look at two important facts. First, how much will the Astros have available to spend?
If, as Wade said, the Astros will reduce payroll in 2010, that means their number will be lower than the 102 million they spent on Opening Day 2009. How much less is up for debate. After arbitration raises to Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez and others, the Astros will have about 80 million committed already in 2010. Assuming the Astros lop 12 million off last year's number, that leaves them with 10 million to spend. Seems about right, doesn't it?
It's still what we've been projecting as their available room since the offseason began, before Wade confirmed it was the case. We'll get to my theory on how much Tejada will cost, but that's not a lot of money to spend to fill a couple of glaring holes.
The second thing to look at is the current market for third baseman. It may not be a foregone conclusion that Tejada will have to switch positions, his bat seems to fit more in line with the corner of the infield market. Of that list, Tejada is probably not going to get the richest deal and possibly not the third-richest deal. I still think he commands a good chunk of change, though. The question is, does it make more sense for the Astros to spend on Tejada or a guy like Pedro Feliz? Just some things to think about when looking at last winter...
Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers
Contract Details: 3 years, 30 million (09-6.5m, 10-8.5m, 11-12m, 12-12m option)
Notes: Furcal entered last year's market after totaling just 164 plate appearances. Still, the then-31-year old posted a wOBA of .440 and a UZR/150 of -15.2. The Dodgers still rewarded Furcal with the richest contract any shortstop earned last winter. Furcal's defense has been all over the boards the past couple of years, but I think it's safe to say conventional wisdom shows he's was better defensively heading into last offseason than Tejada is now. Consider this contract the upper boundary of what Tejada can expect.
Nick Punto, Minnesota Twins
Contract Details: 2 years, 8.5 million (09-4.25m, 10-4.25m, 11-5m option)
Notes: The 30-year old got this contract coming off a season where he played 99 games. Punto hit pretty decently when he did play, posting a wOBA of .324 and had a UZR/150 of 17.9. Punto is a much better fielder than Tejada, but can't hit nearly as well. He's also younger, but couldn't get more than a two-year deal in last year's market.
Orlando Cabrera, Oakland A's
Contract Details: 1 year, 4 million
Notes: Cabrera couldn't have illustrated the plight of Type A free agents any better. With no team willing to give up draft picks for a 34-year old shortstop coming off a season where he posted a wOBA of .316 with excellent defense (by all accounts). Obviously, Cabrera falls into the same situation as Punto. Both players were good defense, bad bat types, which makes them the exact opposite of Tejada. Still, it may be hard for Tejada to get more than a one-year deal this winter.
Cesar Izturis, Baltimore Orioles
Contract Details: 2 years, 5 million (09-2.4m, 10-2.6m)
Notes: Another good defensive shortstop that posted a sub-par wOBA heading into his free agency period. Izturis got a multi-year deal and performed admirably for Baltimore. His contract is lower than the deals that Punto and Cabrera ended up with, but not for a lack of offense. In fact, the only difference tangibly between these three players is that the other two had a better defensive reputation and Izturis had a down year offensively with the Cardinals in 2008. Of course, I say 'reputation' about defense since there is not much difference in the three's defensive stats.
Edgar Renteria, San Francisco Giants
Contract Details: 2 years, 18.5 million (09-7m, 10-9.5m, 11-10.5m option)
Notes: While Renteria's defense wasn't as bad as Tejada's, at least by UZR, Renteria also didn't post as good a wOBA as Tejada's. It fits that Renteria would be the best shortstop comparable for Tejada, though by all accounts, his defense is good enough to stay at short for a little while longer. This deal, though, feels like something Tejada could end up with this winter.
The Third Basemen
Casey Blake, Los Angeles Dodgers
Contract Details: 3 years, 17.5 million (09-5m, 10-6m, 11-5.25m, 12-6m option)
Notes: Now we move into the third basemen that hit the market last winter. Blake had a great run with the Dodgers after being traded to Los Angeles and was locked up to a reasonable deal. Blake more than outperformed his contract in 2009, but his deal was the richest given to a potential third base free agent last winter. If Tejada moves to the hot corner, look for his deal to be in this range.
Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles
Contract Details: 2 years, 6 million (09-2.5m, 10-3.5m)
Notes: Ahh, the dearly departed Astro, Wigginton signed with Baltimore for two years at a very reasonable 6 million. Wigginton probably was over-extended as a third baseman and only played 39 games there in 2009. Wigginton was close to as valuable offensively as Tejada but wasn't good defensively at third. Tejada's advantage over this deal is that he's moving from a premium defensive position to third, instead of moving off third like Wigginton.
The Utility Players
Ramon Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Contract Details: 2 years, 4 million (09-1.75m, 10-2m)
Notes: There is a lot of Wigginton here too, as Vasquez wasn't as good offensively as Tejada nor was he as good defensively (comparatively, that is). Still, Vasquez landed a role with the Pirates and a reasonable contract. This reminds me too much of a Geoff Blum signing instead of what Tejada will fetch.
Mark Loretta, Los Angeles Dodgers
Contract Details: 1 year, 1.25 million
Notes: At this point in his career, Loretta was going to be nothing more than a valuable addition off the bench. His contract reflects this and though he could still play third base in a pinch (Loretta played 23 games in 2009), but this is more like the contract Tejada may get in two years.
Willie Bloomquist, Kansas City Royals
Contract Details: 2 years, 3.1 million (09-1.4m, 10-1.7m)
Notes: Remember when we were talking about Jose Valverde? And we saw all the crazy stuff that Dayton Moore has done? Fit the Bloomquist signing into that vein. The utility player with the Mariners was given a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract and played mostly in the outfield for the Royals. This was just a weird signing all around.
Non-Free Agents of Note
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Contract Details: 2 years, 7.6 million (09-2m, 10-4.7m)
Notes: This starts a couple of third basemen who recently signed contracts, before they get to free agency. With Encarnacion, the Reds were simply buying out a couple of arbitration years, but the numbers fit into the overall picture of what Tejada could command. Interestingly enough, the Reds traded Encarnacion to the Blue Jays mid-season for Scott Rolen.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves
Contract Details: 3 years, 42 million (10-13m, 11-13m, 12-13m, 13-7m option)
Notes: Jones is the outlier of all outliers, since he's a franchise icon in Atlanta and could end up in the Hall of Fame some day. The Braves couldn't have let Chipper walk out the door, but after flirting with .400, his leverage was very high to get a huge deal done. Thus, this three-year deal, averaging 13 million per. Was an aging player worth this? I'm not sure, but it's definitely going to be the contract Tejada's agent bases his sales pitches around.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals
Contract Details: 5 years, 45 million (09-3.325m, 10-6.25m, 11-8.925m, 12-12m, 13-14m)
Notes: Another deal which bought out part of Zimmerman's arbitration years. This also goes for Troy Tulowitski and Ryan Braun's new deals. Zimmerman got a nice bump and quite the salary security for the next five years.
The Breaking News
Jack Wilson, SS, Seattle Mariners
Contract Details: 2 years 10 million (10-5 million, 11-5 million)
Notes: Wilson avoided free agency by agreeing to a deal with the Mariners last Friday. Wilson is nowhere near the hitter Tejada is, posting a wOBA of .286, but is much better with the glove. The Mariners acquired Wilson midway through last season to replace the departed Yuniesky Betancourt. Wilson had an 8.4 million dollar option, which the Mariners didn't have to exercise by coming to terms with him on this deal. If a more one-dimensional player like Wilson can get an average of 5 million per year, it doesn't bode well for Tejada, who may be moved to a less premium defensive position.
Forecast for Tejada
Taking into account Buster Olney's latest comments from above and the market from last season, it's safe to assume Tejada will sign for somewhere around 7 million per year for two years. Some team may be willing to up that number to around 9 or 10 million, but only over one season. I could see the White Sox possibly making a move here, but I don't see Tejada getting more than a two year deal from anyone. Not at his age nor when he'd have to most likely move positions. It's also highly unlikely any team would commit serious money to him as a shortstop, but don't rule out the Royals.