MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that the Mets and shortstop Ruben Tejada have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Unless he ramps up his production with the bat, Tejada is a likely non-tender candidate either next off-season or after the 2015 season in his second and third years of arbitration eligibility.
Due to an unattractive free agent market for shortstops, the Mets appear committed to opening up 2014 with the 24-year-old Tejada as their starting shortstop. Tejada finished 2013 with a .519 OPS, the second-lowest among all Major League hitters who came to the plate at least 200 times during the regular season. Given that he is at best an average defender and doesn’t contribute much on the bases, he is most optimistically a replacement-level shortstop.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.