Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets have placed infielder Ruben Tejada on the waiver wire, which is a move that likely signals the end of his time with the team after a decade in the organization.
Tejada was slated for a much less substantial role than he served in 2014 and 2015, but new starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera going down with a strained knee last week seemingly made Tejada a lock to be on the Opening Day roster.
Instead the Mets are willing to lose him for nothing, with Rubin reporting that they’d like to get out from under the $3 million he’s owed this season. When the Mets tendered Tejada a contract for 2016 they hadn’t yet traded for Neil Walker or signed Cabrera, so the infield situation has changed a lot.
If he passes through waivers unclaimed the Mets can release Tejada and be on the hook for just $500,000 of his $3 million salary due to the unique rule surrounding arbitration settlements. At that point he’d be free to sign elsewhere for whatever he can get as he comes back from the broken fibula suffered on Chase Utley‘s postseason takeout slide.
Tejada is a 26-year-old career .255 hitter with a .653 OPS in 580 games for the Mets, who apparently feel comfortable with Wilmer Flores as their Opening Day shortstop and eventual backup.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.