When the Jhonny Peralta went down, we gave you a list of potential replacements for him. In that post, we pointed out that it was unlikely St. Louis would go outside of the organization for a replacement. Well, as it turns out a replacement fell into their lap, as New York released Ruben Tejada last week. Mozeliak and co swooped in and gave Tejada a relatively meager $1.5 million. It’s a no risk, cheap, on-year deal and didn’t involve trading any prospects. This is how to upgrade on the cheap.
Winning Streak is here to give you the lowdown on what you need to know abut your new shortstop. In short, he won’t set the world on fire. When Jose Reyes left in free agency, New York looked at Tejada as their shortstop of the future. He never caught on as an every day player, and rubbed management and other players the wrong way as well. He’s never been good…but he’s never really been bad either (save for a terrible 2013).
Tejada has always been able to get on base, with a career OBP mark of .330 and a .338 in 2015. Not great, but decent. His defense was down last year, but defensive stats are notoriously fickle year to year, and overall Tejada has received decent marks. Not Rawlings Gold Glove worthy, but not a liability. Again, not great, but decent. Over the last few years, Fangraphs has had him pegged as a 1-2 WAR player. Not to sound like a broken record, but not great, decent. Useful, but not a long-term answer.
St. Louis doesn’t need a long-term answer at this moment, though. While there’s no guarantee that Peralta will be productive when he returns, he’s still projected to be back around the All-Star break. If Tejada can hold down shortstop until then, Peralta slides into the every day lineup and Tejada becomes a decent bench player. If it looks like Peralta isn’t on schedule, the team can go after a stopgap at the trade deadline. If Tejada falters before then, Aledmys Dias can be recalled from AAA to take over. At 1.5 million, this deal is all upside, no risk.
Tejada doesn’t have to be great, just OK. He is a stopgap until Peralta returns, and with a contract that runs through 2017, Peralta himself is only a stopgap until St. Louis can find a shortstop of the future. Who knows, at age 26 and in a different club house, maybe Tejada can surprise us all and make good on some of the promise he showed early on.