Miguel Tejada may still latch on with another team after being designated for assignment by the Giants today, but the former MVP looks finished as a quality regular and is definitely finished as a decent shortstop option.
Rather than focus on the terrible hitter and range-less fielder that Tejada has become in the twilight of his career, I thought it would be worthwhile to remember his days as an elite shortstop and examine his place in baseball history.
I tend to think Tejada didn’t deserve his MVP in 2002, as he trailed fellow shortstop Alex Rodriguez in nearly every major category, including a 150-point deficit in OPS, but he was certainly one of the top all-around players in baseball that season and was very much deserving of his fifth-place finish in the 2004 balloting.
At his peak Tejada was in the lineup every day, playing all 162 games in six straight seasons, and typically batted .275-.300 with 25-35 homers, tons of RBIs, and decent defense at shortstop. Add it all up and he’s accumulated 42.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for his career, which ranks 10th among all shortstops during the past 50 years:
Alex Rodriguez 105.2
Cal Ripken Jr. 89.9
Robin Yount 76.9
Derek Jeter 70.9
Barry Larkin 68.9
Alan Trammell 66.9
Ozzie Smith 64.6
Jim Fregosi 46.1
Bert Campaneris 45.3
MIGUEL TEJADA 42.8
Nomar Garciaparra 42.6
Omar Vizquel 42.6
I’m not sure Tejada will get much Hall of Fame support, but he has a reasonable case if you’re like me and generally believe shortstops and other up-the-middle defenders are underrepresented in Cooperstown recently. Like many great athletes the end of Tejada’s career hasn’t been pretty, but he was a helluva player for a long time and few shortstops can top his 2000-2007 peak.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.