12/03/07 10:14 PM ET
Rumors fly, but Astros far from deals
Interest in Tejada may have cooled prior to Winter Meetings
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Recent reports suggested the Astros have reignited their interest in the Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, whom they aggressively pursued two years ago at the Winter Meetings and again prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline in 2006.
The Orioles and Astros apparently have had conversations about Tejada, but according to a Major League source, talks cooled prior to the start of the Winter Meetings on Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. On a scale of one to 10 in terms of likelihood that a deal would be made, the source rated it a two.
The Astros' interest in Tejada this time around isn't nearly as strong, likely due to two elements: Tejada's drop in power production in 2007, and the Orioles asking price, which, according to the Major League source, could include as many as four players.
The Orioles may ask for Adam Everett and Luke Scott, a reasonable request. But the Orioles would also want two prospects from the top tier of the farm system, and the Astros, recognizing that their Minor League talent has greatly thinned over the years, would probably decide tinkering with the club's future may not be the best course of action.
The first day of the Winter Meetings passed without much news filtering from the Astros' suite at the sprawling Nashville hotel. General manager Ed Wade does not comment on non-free agent players the club may be interested in, but he did acknowledge he met with two teams directly on Monday and had conversations with a third.
Wade emphasized that the Astros are "not close" to reaching any deals, but he expects to continue dialogues with potential trade partners throughout the week.
Wade, like the other 29 GMs, is looking for pitching.
"Right now, I think we're pitching intensive," he said. "The structure of the everyday lineup at this point, we're fine with it. If the season started today and we rolled out [Michael] Bourn, [Kazuo] Matsui, [Hunter] Pence, [Lance] Berkman, [Carlos] Lee, [Ty] Wigginton, [J.R.] Towles and Everett, we could win with that club.
"At the same time, we're not the '27 Yankees. But even the '27 Yankees, in the winter of '27, probably would try to be a better team in '28. You always want to be better. You have to be aggressive. If we could make a deal tonight, versus saying, 'Well, let's wait and see three weeks down the road,' it would make sense to do it tonight. But there is no deal to make tonight."
It could be a while before trade possibilities become realities. Johan Santana and Miguel Cabrera are the two most sought-after trading chips, and until their futures have been decided, teams will be in somewhat of a holding pattern.
"If there are teams right now that have players out there in packages, in deals that they view as primary deals, some of these, there's only going to be one winner in the sweepstakes," Wade said. "The people that they've got committed as having the potential to be on a bigger deal, once they find out they're not there, now they can turn around and talk to Houston about what Houston's interested in, talk to some other club in what they're interested in. But right now, they've got their primary eggs in one basket."
The Astros were rumored to have spoken with the Twins about closer Joe Nathan, but it's unlikely the Astros would be able to offer enough. The Twins are looking for a Major League ready third baseman, among others, in return. Minnesota may also pursue a center fielder in a deal for Nathan if they do not acquire one in a trade involving Santana.
Many clubs have expressed interest in various Astros players, Wade acknowledged. He hesitated to label any of his players "untouchable," but clearly, there are a select few who the club would be more than a little hesitant to deal away. It's safe to say left-hander Troy Patton and right fielder Hunter Pence fall into that category. Count Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman, all of whom have no-trade clauses, as relatively untradeable as well.
"I don't think there's untouchables, but there's reality," Wade said. "We don't say, 'We won't listen on this guy at all.' We have listened on what we feel are our more significant pieces. At the end of the day, you just have to say, 'It wouldn't make sense to do that.' But we're willing to listen on anybody."
On the free agent front, Wade acknowledged that agent Scott Boras called him five days earlier, simply to alert Wade that three of his clients were available -- Eric Gagne, Jeff Weave and Rodrigo Lopez.
"It was just him making me aware of their availability," Wade said. "I wouldn't characterize it as any more than that. It doesn't mean we might not pursue something but right now it's not on the front burner for us."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.