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Three more Astros file for free agency

Three more Astros file for free agency

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HOUSTON -- Miguel Tejada's days playing shortstop with the Astros are likely done, but that doesn't mean his time in Houston is over.

Tejada was one of three Astros players to file for free agency Friday, and if he returns to Houston for a third season, he'll likely be playing third base. Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins and third baseman Aaron Boone also filed for free agency.

With Tejada, Hawkins and Boone filing a day after Darin Erstad, Mike Hampton and Jason Michaels filed, the only eligible Astros player who hasn't filed is closer Jose Valverde, who's expected to do so early next week.

"We expect everybody to file," general manager Ed Wade said. "That doesn't mean we don't have interest in retaining these guys. We need to let the process play out, and we need to assess our own needs and look at who's available in the marketplace and what may fit."

Tejada led the Astros with a .313 batting average, 199 hits and 46 doubles last season while hitting 14 homers and driving in 86 runs. He was in the final year of a contract that paid him roughly $15 million, but he'll likely have to take a pay cut next year.

Tejada, 35, told MLB.com late in the season he'd be willing to return to the Astros and play third base, and that seems to fit with Houston's plans.

"At this point, we're prepared to commit to [rookie] Tommy Manzella playing shortstop," Wade said. "Tommy is ready to play in the big leagues, and we think Miggy is capable of playing third base. That's been discussed last year, and we didn't feel it was right to make the move at that point in time. [Geoff] Blum was playing well at third and did a good job and Miggy was doing well at shortstop. It didn't make sense to walk down that path last year."

Tejada and Hawkins are both classified as Type A free agents, which means the Astros would get extra Draft picks in next year's First-Year Player Draft if they offer them arbitration and they sign elsewhere. The Astros have been in talks with Larry Reynolds, the agent for Hawkins, for several days and would like to bring him back.

Hawkins, 36, has posted a 1.71 ERA in 89 games in 1 1/2 years with the Astros, including going 1-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 11 saves last season. He made $3.5 million in 2009.

Boone, 36, missed most of last season after undergoing open-heart surgery in March. He returned to the Astros in September and appeared in 10 games, going 0-for-13 at the plate. Boone has hinted he may retire this offseason.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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