So now it’s a real deal. The Royals have traded Mark Teahen and cash to the White Sox in exchange for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.
The Royals announced the trade on Friday, a day after the report was widely circulated.
Teahen, who played both infield and outfield for the Royals, could replace Jermaine Dye as the White Sox right fielder or take over at third base. The White Sox declined their option on Dye’s $12-million contract for 2010.
Just how Getz and Fields would fit into the Royals’ plans remains to be seen. The Royals’ incumbents at those players’ prime positions are .300 hitter Alberto Callaspo at second base and projected star Alex Gordon at third base.
Getz, 26, was Chicago’s primary second baseman last season although he was slowed by a sports hernia which required surgery on Oct. 2. He’s reported about ready to resume his baseball work.
Callaspo gave the Royals a big season at bat, eventually swinging No. 5 in the lineup. No 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 last 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. But he adds another Royals’ need with speed on the bases. He had 25 steals in 27 attempts.
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 Gordon Beckham this year.
However, it’s possible that Beckham could move into the Sox’s vacated second-base spot with Teahen playing third base.
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.
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 2005 and 2006, then switched to the outfield when Gordon took over at third base in 2007. Teahen has played right field as well as left and center and first base. Oddly enough, he began 2009 season as the starting second baseman but had to return to third base 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, 50 RBIs in 144 games, including 99 starts at third base, 31 in right field and three at second.
The cash given up by the Royals will help the Sox pay the expected raise Teahen can be expected to get in salary arbitration. He earned $3.575 million this year and could get into the $5-million range next season. By contrast, Getz made $401,000 and Fields made $410,000 this year and they are not eligible for arbitration.
If Mark Teahen has been traded to the White Sox, he did not know about it Thursday morning as he headed to work out at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz.
A report by Bill Madden in the New York Daily News said the White Sox had agreed to send second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields to the Royals in exchange for Teahen. The premise was that Teahen would replace Jermaine Dye, expected to leave the Sox as a free agent, in right field.
But, as of 10 a.m. CT Thursday, Teahen hadn’t heard anything from the Royals.
“Nope,” Teahen said. “My text messages have been blowing up the last 30 minutes or so but until I hear something from a team official, to me it’s just another one of those rumors. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the first of the offseason or if it’s in print or whatever but it seems to have gotten more people’s attention than previous rumors.”
Messages to Royals officials for comment were not immediately returned.
Teahen was headed to the Royals’ complex for exercises to strengthen his back.
“I heard the rumor was the Red Sox first thing this morning but maybe they just had the wrong Sox,” Teahen said wryly.
Teahen, who came to the Royals as a third baseman in the 2004 three-team Carlos Beltran trade, shifted to right field in 2007. Ironically, he tied Dye’s Royals record of 17 outfield assists that season.
In 2008, he played both corner outfield positions as well as the infield. This year, he began the season as the starting second baseman but soon shifted to third base as injured Alex Gordon’s replacement. When Gordon returned, Teahen played primarily in right.
This year he batted .271 with 12 homers, 50 RBIs in 144 games.
Getz was the White Sox’s regular second baseman, batting .261 with two homers and 31 RBIs in 107 games. Although second baseman Alberto Callaspo hit .300 for the Royals, the club is interested in an upgrade defensively.
Fields hit .222 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 79 games. He lost the regular third-base job to Gordon Beckham.
Teahen frequently was the subject of trade rumors in the last offseason too so he’s used to it.
“Right up to the World Series there wasn’t much talk but I’m glad they didn’t waste any time. First thing in the morning and they’re on it,” he said.
“I really haven’t debated getting traded. I felt like I did a good job in the role the Royals wanted me in this year. But I understand the way the pay scale goes and if I get paid more, it’s tough for the Royals to hold on to a guy like me. I figured I’d be in some more rumors this offseason, I didn’t figure they’d start on the first day of the offseason like this.”
Teahen made $3.575 million this year and is again eligible for arbitration.
“I’ve just got to assume I’m coming back to the Royals and if something changes, I’ll go from there,” he said.