BALTIMORE -- On the heels of a 2003 season in which the O's 71 wins were 30 games behind the American League East-winning Yankees and 24 back of the Wild Card Red Sox, the Orioles were bold at the Winter Meetings, signing shortstop Miguel Tejada to a a six-year, $72
BALTIMORE -- On the heels of a 2003 season in which the O's 71 wins were 30 games behind the American League East-winning Yankees and 24 back of the Wild Card Red Sox, the Orioles were bold at the Winter Meetings, signing shortstop Miguel Tejada to a a six-year, $72 million contract.
"How many chances do you get to add an MVP-caliber player to your club who wants to be there for a long time?" new Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said at the time.
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Tejada was named the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2002 with the Athletics, but Oakland did not re-sign him due to budget concerns and infield prospect Bobby Crosby's pending arrival. The move, made at the start of the Winter Meetings in New Orleans, was part of an effort to revamp the O's lineup that offseason.
When Mazzilli was asked that Sunday afternoon in New Orleans if the Orioles were going to start spending their surplus of money on free agents, he smiled and promised that they would act soon. And the Tejada deal wasn't just about the money, as it was one of the first times in recent history the O's had landed a major free agent.
Tejada reportedly had offers from the Mariners and the Tigers before selecting the Orioles, who were confident they'd make some big offseason moves.
''At this point, there's nothing that's out of mix,'' the late Mike Flanagan, former Orioles vice president of baseball operations, said to The New York Times. ''We're tickled pink [about Tejada]. It continues the tradition of great Orioles shortstops. That's always been a cornerstone of the great Oriole tradition.''
Following the lucrative contract for Tejada, Baltimore went on to sign catcher Javy Lopez, the only player who had a higher salary on the Orioles in 2004 than Tejada.
Over the course of his contract -- the first of two stops in Baltimore -- Tejada was durable and consistent. He played in 619 games from 2004-07 with the O's, ending his consecutive-game streak at 1,152 in '07. Tejada hit .311 with 102 homers and 429 RBIs in that span, but he was unhappy with the organization's ability to field a competitive team.
On Dec. 12, 2007, Tejada was dealt to the Astros for five players, including outfielder Luke Scott and pitchers Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate and Matt Albers.
Tejada re-signed a one-year deal with the O's in January 2010. He was traded to the Padres that July. He signed another contract with the Orioles in May '12, but he never made it to the Majors and was later granted his outright release.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.