Miguel Tejada says he wants to return to Houston next season and that he'll move to third base if that's what the Astros want. Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle raves about Tejada's clubhouse presence and his role as a leader in Houston, but even Justice thinks that cutting ties with him will be a "tough, necessary step."
Tejada makes $13MM in 2009, the final year of a six-year, $72MM deal, but figures to earn significantly less no matter where he plays in 2010. His numbers have declined over the course of the deal, with his 2009 line sitting at .301/.331/.433. Though his offensive production at shortstop is solid, Tejada has struggled defensively, posting a -8.6 UZR/150 this year.
Tejada will turn 36 early next season, and the Astros are expected to spend frugally in the offseason. It seems unlikely that they'll be able to retain the veteran shortstop unless they could sign him at a discount.
How cheap would Tejada's price tag have to be for a multi-year deal to be a good investment for the Astros? Should they instead turn to younger players like shortstop Tommy Manzella and third baseman Chris Johnson, or attempt to lure one of the more affordable free agent shortstops to the NL Central? If Tejada doesn't return to Houston, what team would be the best fit for him?