Considering how things have unfolded in the shortstop market, speculation is the Mets will give Ruben Tejada another chance to live up to the expectations he generated two years ago.
Stephen Drew, who would have been ideal at Citi Field, had too expensive a price tag for even the Red Sox, so there was no way he was coming to Flushing.
The Mets’ next choice, Jhonny Peralta, wound up with St. Louis, which is just as well because as a PED user, his production must be viewed skeptically. And, $52 million over four years is excessive under those conditions.
I’ve never been a Tejada fan. I don’t believe he hustles and his sometimes lack of work ethic and commitment is annoying. However, his attendance at a fitness camp in Michigan – along with Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores – presents him in a different light.
It demonstrates an effort, and at this point, that’s something important to the Mets.
Two years ago, his first as a starter in the post-Jose Reyes era, Tejada didn’t report to spring training early as manager Terry Collins wanted. He wasn’t technically late, but Collins believed Tejada should have demonstrated more enthusiasm in preparing for his first season.
Was Collins wrong for thinking that? No. Was Tejada wrong for not reporting early? Technically, no, but he did leave a bad impression.
Tejada redeemed himself with a good season, hitting .289 with a .333 on-base percentage. However, Tejada got off to a horrible start, both in the field and at the plate last year. Following an injury and lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Tejada finished with a .202 average and .259 on-base percentage at the time his season ended with a broken leg.
Economically, Tejada made $514-thousand last year, his third in terms of service time, so the Mets know they won’t pay a lot of money.
There’s literally not a better option in the free agent market, at least not one with an injury history – Rafael Furcal – or who’ll want an excessive amount of money.
The Mets’ timetable to pose serious competition has now been pushed back to 2015 following the season-ending injury to Matt Harvey.
Given that, plus the economic factors, paltry market and nothing in the farm system – Flores is not an option – it makes sense to give Tejada another opportunity.
If Tejada plays the way he did two years ago, that’s something the Mets can live with. And if not, then there’s always next year.
ON DECK: How Mets’ 2014 roster currently shapes up.