The Los Angeles Angels, one of the most aggressive suitors for Miguel Tejada in the past couple of years, still are looking for a bat, and now they have a vacancy at shortstop with yesterday's trade of Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jon Garland.
An industry source said yesterday that the Orioles and Angels have not had any significant discussions recently about Tejada, who is expected to be traded this offseason. However, another league source said the Angels would be interested in Tejada to potentially play third base if the club can't make a trade for Florida Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail wouldn't comment on any specific talks, though he said he's in daily contact with several teams as the winter meetings draw closer. They will be held the first week in December in Nashville, Tenn.
"A day doesn't go by where you don't talk to at least three or four clubs," MacPhail said. "I would hope we'd be able to do some things. Right now, my best guess would be at Nashville. But we wouldn't hesitate to do some things earlier if it makes sense for us."
The Orioles nearly traded Tejada to the Angels before the trade deadline during the 2006 season. However, a potential deal that would have sent Tejada to the Angels for infield prospect Erick Aybar and pitcher Ervin Santana was scrapped when the Orioles insisted on getting a third player in return.
The Angels' focus this offseason has been on the Marlins' Cabrera, and they reportedly are one of the front-runners, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, to land the slugging third baseman.
But if they can't, Tejada could become a priority in a market that already has lost Alex Rodriguez and Mike Lowell, who are close to returning to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, respectively.
Yesterday's trade gives the Angels a surplus of starting pitching, and they also have many position and pitching prospects to use in any potential deal. At this point, the Angels appear ready to hand over the shortstop position to Aybar.
"We're dealing from a position of strength, and we're confident that we'll be able to get the bat that we're looking for," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said from his California home last night.
Cabrera, 33, batted .301 with the Angels last season with eight home runs, 86 RBIs and 101 runs. He also won a Gold Glove. He will be a free agent after the 2008 season, though Chicago general manager Ken Williams indicated he would like to keep the shortstop long term.
Garland, a 28-year-old right-hander, went 10-13 last season with a 4.23 ERA. However, he was an 18-game winner in 2005 and 2006. He also is a free agent after the 2008 season, but the Southern California native said yesterday that he would be interested in exploring a contract extension with the Angels.
NOTES -- The Orioles still haven't decided whether they will discipline Aubrey Huff, who angered fans and team officials this month with comments on satellite radio about Baltimore's nightlife and other nonbaseball topics.. ... MacPhail had a preliminary discussion with Erik Bedard's agent, Mark Pieper, but no serious negotiations have taken place about a contract extension for the ace left-hander. ... The New York Mets are still seeking a starting catcher after cutting off negotiations with free agent Yorvit Torrealba. They expressed interest in the Orioles' Ramon Hernandez earlier this offseason, but the Orioles' asking price was too high. ... If the Orioles trade Tejada and aren't convinced Luis Hernandez is ready to take over as the starting shortstop, one potential replacement is Cesar Izturis, whose option was not picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles have discussed acquiring the slick-fielding Izturis in the past. ... Andy Etchebarren, most recently manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds, has been named bench coach for the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.