|Saturday, March 15
Updated: March 18, 1:12 PM ET
Tejada hoping A's have change of heart
PHOENIX -- Another AL MVP could be on his way out of Oakland.
Athletics owner Steve Schott told star shortstop Miguel Tejada on Saturday that the team won't offer him a multiyear contract after this season.
"I really want to stay here, but I know it will be hard for them to keep me here,'' Tejada said. "That's business. I'm going to keep playing hard. They might change their mind. ... If they want, we can work something out.''
Schott said there would be no negotiations, which Tejada was hoping to get underway during spring training. He wants a long-term contract and the A's can't offer that, Schott said.
Tejada's agents have asked the team to make an offer first. He can become a free agent after this season.
"I just think the world of him,'' Schott said. "The problem is there's absolutely no way we can sign Miguel to a long-term contract. The system is broken down when only two or three teams can pick up a player of Miguel's caliber and sign him to an eight-to-10-year contract and pay him the money he deserves. This small-market team with the system we have just can't afford him.''
After announcing the decision, Schott took Tejada aside to break the news to him just before the A's beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1.
"I know he's going to be unhappy and hurt about it,'' Schott said.
But Tejada said after the game he understood Schott's position, and the conversation went well.
"He told me the truth and I know he didn't lie to me,'' Tejada said.
Tejada said he would consider accepting less money to stay with the franchise that he joined as an undrafted free agent at age 17 -- and possibly even a one-year contract, though that seems doubtful.
"Depends. Maybe,'' he said.
Schott said the A's would not make Tejada a low offer because, "I'm not going to insult the guy.''
The A's did not trade Giambi before he became a free agent and they made the playoffs in his final year with Oakland. Schott said the team is not considering trading Tejada during the season because he truly believes the A's can reach the World Series.
When Tejada reported to spring training last month, he said he would like to move his family to the Bay area from the Dominican Republic so his two children could attend school in the United States. He wants a stable setting so he doesn't have to switch them from school to school.
Tejada has not said how much money he will ask for. He made $3.65 million last season and will get $5 million this year.
AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito would hate to see Tejada go, but he also understands the circumstances.
"The free agent guys like Miggy are going to demand a big price,'' Zito said. "Seeing another big player who could lead us to the World Series leaving is frustrating as a player. I'm not going to lie. There's two sides of it. Guys want to be paid their value.''
Last season, Tejada hit .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBI to help the A's win 103 games, and he believes he can play even better. The A's lost to the Minnesota Twins in the AL division series, the third straight season Oakland was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That's one thing Tejada wants to help fix.
"Now I'm going to prepare to play a real good year,'' he said. "Not because I'm going to go somewhere else or for a big paycheck, but because I think we can go to the World Series.''
Until the A's can generate more revenue -- Schott said it will take a new ballpark to do that -- they won't be able to keep all of their star players. Aside from Giambi, outfielder Johnny Damon and closer Jason Isringhausen also went elsewhere for big money after the 2001 season.
Third baseman Eric Chavez's contract is up after the 2004 season. Schott said each situation is unique, and wouldn't go as far as saying it would be a long shot to re-sign the 2002 Gold Glove winner.
Chavez was surprised by the news Saturday that Tejada probably will be gone. Chavez did say he appreciates the club being up front with its players.
"For some reason, this one's a little bit bigger (than Giambi),'' Chavez said. "He's at the center of our core. It's weird to hear that. Obviously, he's just too much of a commodity for Oakland.''
Schott wishes that weren't the case.
"When you see a person like Miguel, who came from virtually nowhere, he was working ... and begging on the street for 25 cents to help his dad, it is extremely difficult not to keep him in the organization for the future,'' Schott said.
"We could lose two MVPs in two years to the system. Sure, it (ticks) me off.''