On a day when Miguel Tejada affirmed his desire to stay in Baltimore, the Orioles worked late into last night, mulling offers for their star shortstop.
The Los Angeles Angels, once considered the front-runner to land Tejada if he is moved, offered starting pitcher Ervin Santana and Triple-A shortstop Erick Aybar, but the Orioles rejected the proposal, according to a source close to the negotiations.
With the Angels seemingly on the back burner, the Houston Astros have emerged as one of the favorites for Tejada's services, according to a team source. The Orioles rejected the Astros' initial offer, which was believed to include shortstop Adam Everett and third baseman Morgan Ensberg, but the two teams were still talking late last night, a source said.
The Orioles, who maintain that they'd have to be blown away to deal the four-time All-Star and former American League Most Valuable Player, are also talking to the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rangers are offering a package believed to be centered on third baseman Hank Blalock and prospects, and the Dodgers are offering shortstop Cesar Izturis and a couple of prospects, according to a source close to the trade discussions.
Possibly complicating talks, Tejada said yesterday that he does not want to move to third base, which is where the Angels planned on playing him with Orlando Cabrera entrenched at shortstop; and the Rangers would likely put him with Michael Young manning Tejada's position.
"I don't want to do anything right now," said Tejada before the Orioles' 13-11 loss to the White Sox. "I don't want to go anywhere to play third base. [Shortstop] is the position I've always played. ... I don't want to disappoint myself and I don't want to disappoint anybody else. If I go somewhere else, I am going to try. But it's not the same [as] if I was going to be playing short."
It's unknown what effect Tejada's declaration will have on the Angels' and Rangers' plans, but it will be a moot point if the teams can't agree on the components of the deal. It is believed that Santana, the 23-year-old right-hander who is 11-4 with a 4.25 ERA this season, and Aybar, a slick-fielding shortstop hitting .318 with six homers and 37 RBIs for Triple-A Salt Lake, represented the Angels' final offer.
In talking with reporters covering the Angels yesterday, Angels general manager Bill Stoneman intimated as much, saying, "Most of us who are buyers are waiting now. If you don't have your best foot forward by now, not a whole lot is going to change in a day or two."
If the Angels added another prospect to their package of Santana and Aybar, like possibly first base prospect Casey Kotchman, the trade could be completed. It is believed that the Angels' top two offensive prospects - Double-A shortstop Brandon Wood and second baseman Howie Kendrick - are not available.
Declining to discuss specific proposals when reached yesterday afternoon, Orioles owner Peter Angelos reaffirmed his desire to keep Tejada unless the organization is blown away by a proposal.
"It would have to be an exceptional deal," Angelos said. "At this point, I haven't heard any proposals that I believe justify trading a special player like Miguel Tejada."
The Orioles have maintained all along that they are seeking a front-line pitcher, such as the Angels' Santana, and two prospects in a deal for Tejada. Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette have not returned several phone calls over the past couple of days seeking comment.
Meanwhile, a candid and thoughtful Tejada, in his most extensive interview in several months, reiterated that he is not looking to be dealt, further distancing himself from his public request for a trade last December.
"I'm not trying to leave from here," said Tejada, who was 4-for-6 with three RBIs yesterday, including a two-run homer. "They're trying to make me leave. It's the team, not me. I don't have control of that. The manager and I don't know who, they want to take me out of here. But I don't want to push to get out of here because that's not what I'm thinking."
When informed of Tejada's comments, Perlozzo said that he didn't know "where they are coming from."
"It's certainly not something that would come from my mouth," Perlozzo said. "It would be pretty hard to say that you want your top hitter and RBI guy off your ballclub. I don't feel that way at all."
Despite the fact that the Orioles are headed for a ninth straight losing season, Tejada said that he is pleased with the direction of the team and is happy with the development of the organization's young pitching.
"I am happy because I see what happens here is not because [of] the players," said Tejada, who didn't rule out changing his position to third base later in his career. "What's happened here is because the other teams are getting better. I think that probably is going to happen to us next year. We are probably going to get better and be better than the other teams."
The shortstop said that he is trying not to let the rumors, which should grow in intensity before tomorrow's trade deadline, affect his performance on the field.
"I don't even pay attention to all those comments they've been [saying] on the TV," he said. "I am here. I am going to be here until the day that they don't want me."