A seasoned veteran with a limited ceiling, Ruben Tejada doesn’t have game changing potential, so he should be treated as such by the Cardinals.
On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals activated shortstop Ruben Tejada after a stint on the disabled list due to a strained left quadriceps. After Jhonny Peralta went down late in spring training with a thumb injury, the Cards picked up Tejada to presumably be their Opening Day shortstop. Tejada’s injury provided prospect Aledmys Diaz with a window of opportunity, and he’s certainly taken advantage of it (.385 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI). Diaz appears to have a strong grip on the starting role for the time being, aside from a few issues defensively, so it reasons to wonder where Tejada fits and what sort of production should be expected out of him.
Tejada broke into the majors with the Mets in 2010, but didn’t really put it all together until a 2012 season in which he slashed .289/.333/.685 to go along with admirable glove work good for a WAR of 1.8. At this point, he seemed like a suitable successor for Jose Reyes in New York, but that didn’t last long. Over the next two years, Tejada hit .224 over 646 plate appearances without providing much power (5 HR) or speed (3 SB).
With a potential non-tender looming over his head, the Panamanian shortstop had a bit of a bounce back season in 2015 putting up a wRC+ of 95, but his defensive skills took a sizable step backwards. Despite a solid defensive reputation, defensive metrics stuck Tejada with a UZR of -5.6, and a -0.9 defensive WAR last season.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 19, 2016
It stands to reason that Tejada could turn things around with a new organization, but in all likelihood, we’ve already seen the best he has to offer. For a team with serious playoff (and beyond) aspirations like the Cardinals, they’re better off running someone out there with the potential to be a strong contributor day in and day out. That’s essentially the decision the Mets made in the spring, when he was relegated to the bench, and later to the waiver wire.
Luckily for the Cards, their true shortstop of the future may have fell in their lap with Diaz. He already appears to have a bat that can stick in an MLB lineup, and while his glove is a question mark right now, that’s an aspect of a player’s game that can certainly be improved over time.
It might seem crazy to say that a player has already reached his ceiling at just 26 years of age, but after almost six full season under his belt, that is surely the outlook for soon-to-be utility player Ruben Tejada.
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports