Every season, a ton of players are invited to Yankees camp in February and March. Most of the names are regulars or prospects, but there is always a contingent of former major leaguers trying their best to grab that 25th spot on the roster. Usually. these kinds of players don’t end up mattering much at all, but the invitation can occasionally turn to be a master stroke, like Bartolo Colon in 2011.
In that vein, the Yankees have signed infielder Ruben Tejada to a minor-league contract. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the deal on Twitter after learning about it from Tejada’s agent. Jon Heyman later tweeted that it will be worth $1.35 million if he makes the majors.
As is the case with most minor-league contracts, this is harmless. Yes, Tejada was an absolute nightmare last season, batting a mere .167/.247/.242 with a 34 wRC+ in 36 games in the majors for the Cardinals and Giants. Even down in the minors, he was about league-average in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League with a .301/.338/.413 line in 40 games (99 wRC+). It was Tejada’s first season outside the Mets organization since they signed him out of Panama as a 16-year-old.
Tejada is most notable for being the victim of Chase Utley’s controversial slide in the 2015 playoffs. That broke Tejada’s leg and ended his Mets career. It was also unfortunate because 2015 had been a solid year for Tejada, as he hit .261/.338/.350 with 23 doubles and a 94 wRC+ in 116 games, spending time at shortstop, third base, and second base. That’s not really worth of a starting role in 2017, but as a potential Yankees bench player? Sure.
It’s not as though Tejada is old or anything, as he was just 26 last year, the same age as Didi Gregorius. Perhaps rehabbing from the broken leg was simply a difficult process and it was hard for him to get back into any sort of hitting groove, particularly since he also had a quad injury right before the regular season began. Perhaps it was tough to change organizations multiple times in one year after a whole decade with one. Perhaps he just sucks now.
Either way, Tejada will get his chance to make it again in New York, this time in Yankees pinstripes. He will most likely compete with Ronald Torreyes and others for a backup infield spot since like Torreyes, he can play pretty much anywhere. Since he spent time in Triple-A last year, the team could also stash him in Scranton for depth if they prefer Torreyes, as they did in 2016 with Pete Kozma.
It would also be a very Yankees/Mets thing for Tejada to randomly come up with a big hit in a Subway Series game, so there’s that. Get it done, Rube.