Return of Bell major reason for Tejada trade
Deal brings pitching prospect Pelzer to the Orioles
KANSAS CITY -- Just hours after Thursday's announcement of the hiring of new manager Buck Showalter -- signed through 2013 -- the Orioles made another move for the future, by trading veteran infielder Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres.
"The primary motivation was to get Josh Bell back up here," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of the 23-year-old switch-hitting prospect who will assume Tejada's roster spot and take over third base duties.
Bell has had two stints in Baltimore, and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk for the second time on July 21. Acquired from the Dodgers in a deal for George Sherrill right before last year's Trade Deadline, Bell hit .263 (5-for-19) in his first six Major League games and is considered to be the organization's top position prospect.
"We need to evaluate him and his Major League readiness," MacPhail said of Bell, who will join the team on Friday in Kansas City. "And it will help prioritize our needs for next season."
MacPhail said several teams had been in talks for Tejada, but San Diego's offer, which includes Double-A pitching prospect Wynn Pelzer and salary relief for approximately half of the $2.3 million remaining on Tejada's contract, was the Orioles' best option. Pelzer opened the season as the Padres' seventh-best prospect, according to Baseball America, and was ranked behind touted arms Corey Luebke and Simon Castro
|While the San Diego Padres got the infield and lineup help they felt they needed in Miguel Tejada, the Orioles got a pitching prospect in return. Here's some more information on Wynn Pelzer:|
Primarily a reliever at the University of South Carolina, the Padres turned their 2007 ninth-round pick into a starter, with some positive early results. In his first full season, Pelzer had a 3.19 ERA in 118 1/3 innings pitched for Fort Wayne in the Class A Midwest League. He may have jumped more on the prospect map with a very strong 2009 campaign. Pitching in the hitting-friendly California League, Pelzer was an All-Star and finished with a 3.94 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 150 2/3 IP. He moved up to the Double-A Texas League this year and while he hasn't been terrible, it seems like he's taken a small step backward, with a 4.20 ERA in 94 1/3 IP. He moved back into a relief role earlier this month.
Scouts who saw Pelzer in 2009 were pleasantly surprised. He's a very intelligent pitcher who's very competitive and has a very good feel for pitching. Last year, he was throwing his fastball in the 90-92 mph range and he showed pretty good command. This year, though, he's been more at 88-90 mph, occasionally touching 91 mph. He shows an average slider and changeup, though none of his pitches grade out as plus. His command hasn't been as strong, with 56 walks thus far this season. With solid stuff across the board and some aptitude for pitching, if he can curb the command problems, he still has the chance to be an effective Major League reliever.
-- Jonathan Mayo
"We certainly like Pelzer, but these top guys [Luebke and Castro], we think they'll be ready in the next year," Padres general manager Jed Hoyer said.
Pezler (6-9, 4.22 ERA) is a 24-year-old righty who will be assigned to Double-A Bowie and will likely be groomed as a Major League reliever. MacPhail said Pelzer has two plus pitches, and his long-term future is thought to be in the bullpen.
While Tejada's name has been heavily circulated in trade rumors, the six-time All-Star said the news that he was leaving the Orioles was bittersweet.
"It hit me hard," Tejada said. "It's not because I get traded, but one thing I never want to do is leave this team. I love being here. I feel bad because I left a lot of good guys behind. I always say that I love the city and I love this team. It hit me hard, but I got to go play and help those guys [in San Diego] to win a championship."
Tejada will fill the Padres' needs in the infield -- spelling Chase Headley at third base and playing some shortstop -- and adds a right-handed bat to a lineup in the thick of a playoff push.
"It's a great honor that a first-place team wants me," said Tejada, who is batting .269 with seven homers and 39 RBIs. "I wish it could be here [in Baltimore], and we were fighting for first place. That didn't happen, and I got to go do my job."
A career .288 hitter, the ever-popular Tejada signed up for his second go-around in Baltimore as a free agent this offseason. The signing was contingent on Tejada converting from shortstop to third base, and on Thursday, Tejada -- who is on a one-year deal -- didn't rule out another stint at Camden Yards in the future.
"I'll always be interested in coming back here," said Tejada, who hugged teammates on the field in Kansas City before leaving.
"The only team that I can be coaching when I retire is here. I love it here. In my heart, I'm one of the Orioles. I feel like this is the team that gave to my family.
"I think my heart belongs to the Orioles."
Added interim manager Juan Samuel: "Tejada's been a pro all of his career. He's well liked, he's well liked by his teammates in the clubhouse. We are going to miss that. He's a quality individual."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.