Royals trade Teahen for pair of infielders
Kansas City gets Fields, Getz from White Sox
KANSAS CITY -- It's pretty apparent what the trade of Mark Teahen means to the White Sox. However, it's not very clear how the addition of Chris Getz and Josh Fields affects the Royals.
The rumored deal became real on Friday when the Royals announced they'd sent Teahen and cash to the White Sox for Getz and Fields.
Teahen, who played both infield and outfield for the Royals, said the White Sox plan for him to play third base rather than take over for Jermaine Dye in right field. The White Sox declined their option on Dye's $12-million contract for 2010 but could re-sign him.
"I talked to [general manager] Kenny Williams and he said I'd be playing third base every day so I guess [Gordon] Beckham is going to move to second," Teahen said. "I'm really excited about that because that's my home position."
But Getz was the White Sox regular second baseman last season and Fields is primarily a third baseman. The Royals' incumbents at those players' prime positions are .300 hitter Alberto Callaspo at second base and projected star Alex Gordon at third base.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore didn't clarify matters much as he discussed the trade on Friday afternoon.
"By our reports, Getz has average to above-average range at second base," Moore said. "Fields' best position has been third base, although we believe that he can play left field and move over to first."
But who'll play where?
"We're just not going to look that far ahead in the crystal ball right now," Moore said. "The bottom line is it hasn't worked here, and we've got to do what we have to do to shake up our team and create as much competition as we can and put the pressure on to perform and go out and compete."
What it also means is that Getz and Fields give the Royals more flexibility to make trades. And Moore emphasized that he'd pursue trades much more aggressively than he'll chase free agents this offseason.
"It puts us in a position to maybe be more creative in this offseason and through Spring Training and maybe even in the first part of next year with making other deals," Moore said.
Moore also frankly admitted that this trade was, in part, financially driven. Teahen earned $3.575 million this year and could get into the $5-million range through salary arbitration next season although the cash given up by the Royals will help pay for that. By contrast, Getz made $401,000 and Fields made $410,000 this year and, falling between zero to three years of service time in the Majors, they are not eligible for arbitration.
"Our motivation behind this deal and any deal we make potentially this winter is to acquire as many zero-to-three service time players as we can," Moore said. "That was certainly what we did here in obtaining Getz and Fields."
Getz, 26, was Chicago's primary second baseman as a rookie last season, although he was slowed by a sports hernia which required surgery on Oct. 2. He said he's about ready to resume his baseball work.
Callaspo gave the Royals a big season at bat, eventually swinging No. 5 in the lineup. Not only did he hit .300, but he hit the first 11 home runs of his career with eight triples, 41 doubles and 73 RBIs. But the Royals want to improve their defense, which ranked last in the American League, and Callaspo had 17 errors this season.
Getz, a left-handed batter who hit .262 as a rookie in 2009, played just 107 games with 18 doubles, four triples, two homers and 32 RBIs. He was often platooned, not playing against left-handed pitchers. But he fills another Royals' need with speed on the bases. He had 25 steals in 27 attempts.
Now, with Getz aboard, that raises the possibility that Callaspo could be traded despite his impressive season. If not, a fierce competition could develop.
"I haven't given it too much thought because I'm trying to breathe a little bit right now," Getz said. "I hope it works itself out. Stuff like that does. I've got some versatility, he's got some versatility."
In fact, the Royals consider Callaspo better at third base than second. But already there's Gordon and Fields at third.
"We expect Alex to become the player we all anticipated that he would when we first stepped on the field here at Kauffman Stadium, but Josh Fields has the ability to play third as well," Moore said. "Alex is still very much a part of what we're doing here."
Fields, also 26, had an impressive rookie season in 2007 when he hit 23 homers and drove in 67 runs while batting .244 in 100 games for the Sox. But Joe Crede reclaimed the third-base job in 2008 and Fields lost out to Beckham this year.
Because Fields also has played first base, he could fill a role behind Billy Butler if the Royals decide not to tender Mike Jacobs a contract.
"I'm looking at it as kind of a fresh start," Fields said. "I've played against the Royals for a while, so they know what I can and can't do, I guess. But as far as where I'm going to be, that hasn't been discussed. I'll play wherever."
Teahen, 28, gives the Sox versatility. Aquired from the A's by the Royals in the three-club 2004 Carlos Beltran deal, he played third base in '05 and '06, then switched to the outfield when Gordon took over at third base in '07. Teahen has played right field as well as left, center and first base. Oddly enough, he began last season as the starting second baseman, but had to return to third in early April, when Gordon underwent hip surgery.
In his five seasons with Kansas City, Teahen batted .269 in 676 games with 59 homers, 24 triples, 146 doubles and 293 RBIs. His career on-base percentage is .331.
Teahen, a left-handed batter who hits to all fields, this year had a .271 average with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 144 games, including 99 starts at third base, 31 in right field and three at second.
"I'm excited, obviously, going to a team that has a chance to win it every year," Teahen said. "That's what you play for obviously is to win. I wish I could've been part of making a winner in Kansas City, but I'm excited to go to a team that has a shot year-in and year-out of getting in the postseason."
Teahen looked forward to being anchored at one position for the White Sox.
"The last few years have been tough bouncing around and trying to figure out what position I'll be playing," he said. "There is a comfort zone at third base and I think I've been more productive when I've been there."
Teahen, a fan favorite who did entertaining videoboard interviews with players and was involved in community charities, will miss Kansas City.
"The fans there have been great to me and I've got a ton of friends there. It's become a second home," Teahen said. "That part of it is really tough but baseball-wise, career-wise I've got to look at the positives of it."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.