The Mets have assigned shortstop Ruben Tejada to AAA Las Vegas now that he has completed his rehabilitation assignment. Tejada went on the D.L. after straining his quadriceps muscle on May 30th against the Yankees. The move does not come as a surprise, as in late May General Manager Sandy Alderson had advised both Tejada and Ike Davisthat their demotions were imminent if their play did not improve. Davis was demoted on June 9th, and Tejada’s injury spared Alderson the decision at that time.
Tejada’s demotion is the result of a couple of factors. First, Tejada’s play had been poor since the beginning of spring training, and one could argue that his play has been poor since the second half of last season. In 2013, Tejada was hitting .209, with no home runs and 10 RBI. Tejada had posted a .267 OBP with a .529 OPS. While his offensive statistics are alarming, his defense had also been spotty this year. Second, Tejada has “earned” a reputation of being complacent, and that complacency has mostly been demonstrated on defense, where he has appeared to give less than 100% effort. His attitudinal issues date back to spring training of 2012, when he was asked to arrive early, and yet arrived on the last day permissible. Third, Tejada’s demotion is partially due to the play of replacement shortstop, Omar Quintanilla. Quintanilla’s offensive numbers are not stellar, with a .256 average, a .326 OBP and a .702 OPS. However, Quitanilla has been more productive than Tejada, and has played crisp baseball on defense and on the bases.
The big question is whether or not Tejada fits into the Mets’ long-term plans. There were rumors last off-season that Tejada was being shopped, and in reading the tea leaves, one can surmise that he’s not a favorite of Sandy Alderson. Tejada has limited skills, as he’ll never be a fast runner nor a power hitter. He’ll therefore have to rely on hitting for average and defense to justify a spot. So far in his career, he has done neither of those consistently. Quinatanilla is probably not the answer going forward, so unless Tejada’s play drastically improves (he hit .227 during rehab with 9 strikeouts), the Mets may be in the market for a shortstop this winter. I think that will end up being the case.