Ruben Tejada’s six-year stint with the New York Mets has come to an end after the shortstop cleared waivers and was subsequently released on Wednesday, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports.
Tejada was placed on waivers yesterday as the Mets looked to unload their veteran infielder. However, no teams claimed Tejada and he is now free to sign with any team he wants. By cutting Tejada now, the Mets are on the hook for just $500,000 as he signed a non-guaranteed $3 million deal during the offseason.
Puma noted yesterday that several people in the Mets’ clubhouse didn’t quite understand the team wanting to rid themselves of Tejada. Offseason acquisition and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera will miss the next two weeks of spring training with a knee injury and Tejada’s chances of making the team figured to increase.
Tejada is indeed on waivers; there was some wonderment in the Mets clubhouse why a proven veteran would be discarded by team trying to win.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) March 15, 2016
Through eight games this spring, Tejada made a solid case to make the team, hitting.278 with one HR and five RBI in 18 at-bats. After suffering a broken leg in last year’s National League Division Series (NLDS) following a Chase Utley takeout slide, Tejada seemed poised for a strong return.
“I come here ready and positive,” Tejada said to the New York Post. “It’s a long year and everything happens here, so that’s why I come here with the mentality positive, ready to play and ready to work hard.”
Tejada, 26, figures to be on the St. Louis Cardinals’ radar as the incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta will miss at least the next two months with a torn ligament in his finger. Another team with possible interest could be the Mets’ crosstown rival New York Yankees. They currently have an open bench spot — which figures to go to a versatile infielder — and Tejada can play shortstop, second and third base.
Prospect Rob Refsnyder has seen action at third base this spring and is likely the odds-on favorite to win the job. However, a proven veteran like Tejada could make for an interesting option.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 16, 2016
While Tejada is certainly far from a game-changing talent, he is a rock-solid defender who can hold his own with the bat. Last season, Tejada hit.261 with three HR and 28 RBI through 116 games. It was an improvement over Tejada’s performance over the past two seasons in which he combined to hit a meager.219 with five HR and 44 RBI.
When Jose Reyes left the Mets following the 2011 season, many people saw Tejada as a potential successor to the speedy veteran. However, injuries and inconsistencies prevented Tejada from harnessing his full potential. Yet the Mets continually put their faith in the Panamanian-born infielder as he was the team’s Opening Day starter at shortstop in three of the last four seasons (via Baseball-Reference).
Also, despite Wilmer Flores’ superior regular season last year (.263, 16 HR, 59 RBI), Tejada was the Mets’ starting shortstop during the early part of the playoffs. It was never made public but ESPN‘s Adam Rubin has a quote from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson’s memoir, clearly showing that the team had given up on Tejada.
Sandy is quoted in book saying: “Gradually you come to the conclusion that Tejada is just a placeholder. He’s not a long-term guy for us.”
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) March 16, 2016
Looking ahead, guys like Eric Campbell and Matt Reynolds are “in the mix” for a spot on the Mets’ bench, according to Puma.
[Featured Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]