After being released by the New York Mets earlier this week, shortstop Ruben Tejada has latched on with the St. Louis Cardinals, as first reported by Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Tejada will receive $1.5 million with his new major league deal, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The Mets placed Tejada and waivers and subsequently released him, the Inquisitr reported. After inking the versatile infielder to a non-guaranteed one-year, $3 million deal in the off-season, the Mets elected to cut Tejada before his contract became guaranteed. Tejada received a $500,000 buyout as part of his release.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson called releasing shortstop Ruben Tejada “a move we felt we needed to make.” The full quote: pic.twitter.com/bJNVixeCc2
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) March 17, 2016
Outside of David Wright, Tejada was the Mets’ longest tenured player prior to his release.
Earlier in the week, Brendan Kuty of New Jersey Advanced Media reported that Tejada received a minor-league contract offer from the New York Yankees. However, it was confirmed by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that Tejada rejected the offer in lieu of several MLB offers he had on the table.
With the Cardinals’ incumbent Jhonny Peralta set to miss the next 10-to-12 weeks following surgery on a torn thumb ligament, the team was in the market for a shortstop. Internal options such as Jedd Gyrko, Greg Garcia and Aledmys Diaz likely motivated the team to acquire a somewhat proven commodity at the position. The Cardinals reportedly had an interest in trading for Tejada before he was even released.
— MLB Jersey Numbers (@NumbersMLB) March 19, 2016
Tejada, 26, seemed all but guaranteed a spot on the Mets’ roster following a knee injury to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. With the off-season acquisition sidelined for at least two weeks, and questionable for Opening Day, Tejada’s presence — despite the team having Wilmer Flores — seemed crucial.
Through eight games this spring, Tejada was making 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’s infamous takeout slide, Tejada was 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.”
While Tejada is certainly far from a star player, he brings a reputation for being a rock-solid defender and on-base threat (.330 career OBP) to the Cardinals’ roster. Tejada even showed the ability to hold his own with the bat last year, hitting.261 with three HR and 28 RBI in 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.
Once seen as a potential successor to the speedy veteran Jose Reyes, 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).
The signing of Tejada likely completes the Cardinals’ shopping before they open up the season in a few weeks. In the off-season, the team made some key improvements — such as signing pitcher Mike Leake — despite losing the likes of John Lackey and Jayson Heyward in free agency to their National League Central division rival Chicago Cubs. That was something Tejada considered as he fielded offers from several teams.
“I hear a lot about the club and the clubhouse and it’s something I took into consideration when signing with the Cardinals.”
— Cards Nation (@CardsNation13) March 19, 2016
[Featured Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]