The Cardinals confirmed the addition on their official Twitter feed. Tejada joins St. Louis after the New York Mets released him earlier in the week. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Tejada will earn $1.5 million in 2016.
He was the odd man out in New York after the Mets retooled their infield with the additions of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, leaving Tejada and Wilmer Flores to fill the same role.
Although Cabrera is currently battling a knee injury, the Mets decided to release Tejada, a 26-year-old natural shortstop, anyway, likely due to the financial implications. Adam Rubin of ESPN reported they’ll have to pay less than $500,000 rather than be on the hook for Tejada’s $3 million base salary.
Matt Ehalt of the Record highlighted a possible unintended consequence of the move, though:
The fact that Tejada ended up with the Cardinals certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs even wrote an article shortly after the infielder was placed on waivers entitled “Ruben Tejada, Inevitable Cardinal.”
St. Louis recently lost starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a thumb injury that could cost him the entire first half of the campaign. Add in the fact that the Cardinals had success over the years plugging versatile players like Tejada into their system, and it was a likely match.
The Panama native gets on base at a solid clip (.338 OBP in 2015, .330 for his career) but doesn’t do much else offensively. His career high in both home runs and stolen bases is just five. But his ability to fill holes around the infield gives him value.
He’ll likely be given a chance to win the starting shortstop job during the final weeks of spring training. Aledmys Diaz, Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia are among the other players who have tried to earn more playing time in Peralta’s absence.
All told, it’s a solid value signing for a Cardinals club that needed more depth on the infield. Tejada won’t put up big numbers, but he’s capable of serving as a reliable placeholder until Peralta returns.
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