Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tejada, Lopez + Hudson

On Saturday, the Baltimore Orioles agreed to terms with 3B Miguel Tejada on a 1-year, $6MM contract. It had been rumored at times this off-season that the Twins were potentially interested in Tejada, and I have to admit seeing him sign with another team allowed me to let out a giant sigh of relief. I understand Tejada is a big name, coming off a solid season, but in all honesty a Tejada addition likely wouldn't have been an upgrade over just giving Danny Valencia the job right out of Spring Training. Add in the fact that he received $6MM, and the decision to pass on him is a no-brainer.

Tejada hit .313/.340/.455 last year with 14 home runs in 158 games. Certainly not bad numbers, although they're far from his MVP-caliber numbers in his prime. However, Tejada's apparent bounce-back season was aided heavily by the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. Tejada's splits are pretty severe, and his road numbers are more than enough to leave me very concerned about a repeat performance in 2010. Miggy hit .343/.367/.512 in Houston, good for an .879 OPS. For comparison's sake, an .879 OPS last year would have put Tejada second on the team behind Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau posted an .878 OPS.

That said, his road splits were awful. He hit just .283/.313/.395 away from Minute Maid Park last year, good for a very poor .708 OPS. Add in his below average defense, and his road numbers are offensively similar to Joe Crede, but his defense is significantly worse, making him a major downgrade from even an oft-injured Joe Crede.

I'm not sure how serious the Twins were about Tejada, but thanks to the Orioles giving him $6MM for what likely will be below average production at 3B, the Twins were saved from making yet another mistake on an aging veteran. Tejada's signing did narrow down the infield options, leaving ultimately Felipe Lopez, Orlando Hudson and Joe Crede as the last remaining free agent options for the Twins.

If I had to bet on who the Twins end up signing, I'd feel pretty confident putting money on Crede returning to the Twins for another year. That's the wrong choice, for several reasons, but mostly because both Hudson and Lopez are better players at this point.

I still think the Twins should sign Hudson, and since they were apparently willing to offer Jarrod Washburn $5MM, they should be able to give Hudson $6.5MM per year for two or three years to lock up second base. Felipe Lopez may be even cheaper, and while Nick Punto starting at third base isn't my first choice, it's not the end of the world. Adding Hudson or Lopez for two or three years would give the Twins some continuity in their infield, with Valencia simply replacing Punto next season. Whatever the Twins decide to do, they're quickly running out of options and need to make a move sooner rather than later.