SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / AP) — The World Series champion San Francisco Giants formally announced their $6.5 million, one-year deal with free agent Miguel Tejada on Thursday.
Tejada passed his physical earlier in the day, making the deal official. He will take over a spot at shortstop filled previously by World Series MVP Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe.
Tejada had watched from the visiting side when the Giants celebrated their NL West title after knocking out his San Diego Padres on the final day of the regular season.
That’s one reason why Tejada jumped at the opportunity to join the World Series champions when they came calling in free agency.
“A team like San Francisco, you don’t say no,” Tejada said. “They already won it. That’s what I have in my mind. I’m going to be walking in here, playing and wearing the same uniform as the champions.”
General manager Brian Sabean said he has admired Tejada for years, back to his days starring across the bay for the Oakland Athletics. He looked into trading for Tejada early last season and then saw quite a bit of him down the stretch as the Padres and Giants battled for the division title.
After watching Tejada so closely last season, Sabean has no concerns about how the 36-year-old Tejada will handle the crucial defensive responsibilities at shortstop – especially with a pitching staff as talented as San Francisco’s.
“The pitching staff is a flyball popup and strikeout pitching staff,” Sabean said “That’s one of our strengths. We gave him high marks, or certainly passing marks, as a shortstop or we never would have put ourselves in this position.”
Tejada played 156 games last season with Baltimore and San Diego, batting .269 with 15 homers, 26 doubles and 71 RBIs between his two clubs. He had an on-base percentage of .312 and slugged .381.
The Padres declined to offer Tejada salary arbitration last week.
Tejada spent the first seven of his 14 major league seasons as a fan favorite with the Athletics, winning the 2002 AL MVP award in his second-to-last year with the A’s. His experience in Oakland made him want to return to the Bay Area when he had the chance.
He also is excited that he no longer has to face the Giants’ stellar starting staff with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez.
“They are really tough pitchers to hit,” he said. “To come here will be nice for me because now I don’t have to face those guys.”
Tejada left for the Baltimore Orioles after the 2003 season and also has played for Houston. In 14 career seasons, Tejada has a .287 batting average with 300 homers, 1,256 RBIs and 2,285 hits.
“He has a knack for driving in runs,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s dangerous up there. I didn’t like it when he was up at the plate. It will be nice to have someone hitting in the middle of our order with his experience.”
The Giants had a void at shortstop after declining to exercise their $9.5 million option on Renteria earlier this month, instead paying him a $500,000 buyout. Then they lost Uribe, who signed a $21 million, three-year deal with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
That’s when they quickly moved to get Tejada.
“It was quite a relief once we signed Miggy,” Bochy said. “That’s a pretty big hole we had to fill there. We couldn’t have had a better player available to fill that hole at such a key position.”
The Giants last week brought back first baseman Aubrey Huff on a $22 million, two-year contract. They also agreed this week on a one-year, $1 million deal to bring back outfielder Pat Burrell.
The 34-year-old Burrell came to the Giants on a minor league deal May 29 after his release by Tampa Bay and spent a short stint with Triple-A Fresno before joining the Giants on June 4. He batted .266 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games for San Francisco, becoming the everyday left fielder.
Burrell, who also won a ring with the Phillies in 2008, struggled in the World Series – won in five games by the Giants over the Texas Rangers. He went 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts and was benched for Game 4 at Texas. He had 22 strikeouts in 49 at-bats overall during the postseason.
Sabean is trying to keep as much of his roster intact to make another deep postseason run in 2011. San Francisco won the city’s first title since moving West in 1958, beating the Texas Rangers in five games.
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