O's continue talks with Tejada agents

Sources: Trade demand yet to be rescinded

December 15, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles had more discussions with the representatives of Miguel Tejada yesterday, and the club remains confident that he'll be its shortstop on Opening Day.

"We are just moving forward," said Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan. "From what we heard this week, we're going ahead with the fact that he is on our team."

Flanagan cited Tejada's comments to Comcast SportsNet on Sunday, when Tejada denied saying he wanted to be traded. He also referenced comments made by the club's new catcher, Ramon Hernandez, who said in his introductory news conference on Tuesday that Tejada is happy in Baltimore and "wants to stay here." Tejada and Hernandez, former teammates in Oakland, spoke over the weekend.

However, according to industry sources, Tejada's representatives have not backed down from his trade request. Tejada's agent, Diego Bentz, declined to comment yesterday, citing agency policy.

The Orioles have listened to offers for the All-Star shortstop, and indications are that they would have to be completely overwhelmed to deal Tejada. The Red Sox offered their disgruntled All-Star, outfielder Manny Ramirez, for Tejada, according to industry sources, but were informed by the Orioles that it would take more than that to complete the deal.

Sources said that the Orioles told Boston that they'd want Ramirez and two pitchers for Tejada, but the Red Sox rejected the counterproposal.

According to sources familiar with the Orioles' plans, the club also is not interested in trading Tejada for prospects, and in any potential deal, the team would be looking for an All Star-caliber player in return. As of now, it appears that teams have been unable to match the Orioles' asking price.

"Obviously, we've spoken to Miguel. ... I am not sure where it goes from here," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said Tuesday. "I don't expect things to change from day to day at this point."

Meanwhile, the Orioles made veteran free-agent outfielder Kenny Lofton what is believed to be a one-year contract offer yesterday, according to an industry source. However, Lofton reportedly is leaning toward signing with the Diamondbacks or the Dodgers, closer to his Arizona home.

The Orioles made progress yesterday in their quest to sign Florida Marlins free agent Jeff Conine. They exchanged several proposals with Conine's agent, Michael Watkins, and Flanagan acknowledged that the two sides moved closer to a deal.

The Orioles and Conine are believed to be trying to hammer out a one-year deal worth between $1.75 million and $2.5 million. At least three other teams are interested in Conine, though the Orioles appear to be the favorite. Conine, who played with the Orioles from 1999 to 2003, could make a decision by the end of the week.

"We certainly made a lot of progress in the last 24 hours," Watkins said. "But I wouldn't characterize it as close to being done. We all want to make sure he fits with the club. It's nice that the Orioles want him back so badly. He is very excited about it. Jeff loves Baltimore."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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