Despite some reluctance to deal away veterans in the middle of a losing season, the Orioles have traded third-baseman Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Wynn Pelzer.
Tejada was signed this off-season for $6 M to be a stop-gap while top prospect Josh Bell got some more development time in the minors. Miggy started the year hitting very well, but has been in an extended slump and his batting line sits at just .269/.308/.362. He’s not much for the power or plate discipline, but his BABIP is relatively low at .282 so he should hit better going forward (ZiPS has him at .289/.329/.412). At third, he’s displayed decent range and a strong arm but his 15 errors drag his UZR down to -4.6 runs. That’s made Tejada only about a replacement level player so far this year (0.1 WAR), though expecting maybe 0.5 Wins from him the rest of the season wouldn’t be out of line. At $4 M a win, that would line his production up right with how much money he’s still owed. There’s also the consideration that he’ll be a Type B free agent, but I don’t anticipate he’ll be offered arbitration so there’s not much need to account for the lost draft pick value. It was nice having Tejada back for a little while even if the production wasn’t quite there. He’s now netted the team 6 players in two separate trades as well. Best of luck to him out West.
Coming to Baltimore will be 24 year-old pitcher Wynn Pelzer. The right-hander has spent 2010 at Double-A, posting a decent strike-out rate (7.9 K/9) but with way too many walks (5.3 BB/9). Last year though (in High A-Ball), he K’ed more batters, showed much better control, and posted a 58% groundball rate (only 45% this year). John Sickles ranked him as the Padres’ 5th best prospect before the season and gave him a B grade, saying he throws a hard sinker and has an effective breaking-ball.
It’s not great that he’s already 24 and not doing much in his first go-around in Double-A, but I like the sound of his stuff and hopefully he’ll pick back up where he left off in ’09 sometime soon. I’m not sure if something’s going on physically, by the way, as Pelzer started the season very well but has seen his walks more than double in the last two months while his strike-outs have been cut in half (and he’s pitched out of the pen the last few times out – where he’s walked 10 and K’ed 3 in 6.2 IP). Maybe a mechanical issue that can be tweaked to get him back on track? In any case, it’s an interesting arm with some positive expected value (depending on what he would be graded at now, somewhere between $4-7 M I’d guess). That makes the trade a clear win for the O’s, and frankly I’m not really sure why the Padres would even want Tejada. Oh well.
Edit: Apparently the O’s are throwing in $1.1 M, which makes the deal slightly less of a win for them. Also, it looks like they already think of of Pelzer as a reliever, which dampens things further. Still a good move though, since keeping Tejada is pointless for them.
This also means that Josh Bell (.275/.326/.478 in Triple-A) will see the bulk of the playing time at third-base in the majors for the rest of the season. Hopefully he won’t keep striking out in 42% of his at bats (8 of 19), and maybe throw a few walks and extra-base hits in there as well.