Just a few short hours before calendars across the country turned from 2012 to 2013, the Kansas City Royals confirmed rumblings that they had reached agreement on a contract with veteran infielder Miguel Tejada. Reports suggest that the agreement is for a minor league deal, but the team will convert it into a Major League contract once they open up a spot on their 40-man roster. Tejada has also reportedly been told (according to insight passed along by MLBTR) by team officials that he’s being guaranteed a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster in either a utility infielder role or at second base. According to reports he’ll earn $1.1 Million for the 2013 season, with another $400,000 possible in performance bonuses.
Tejada, now 38 years old, went into the start of the 2012 season without a deal before signing a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles in early May. He’d appear in 36 games for Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate, batting .259/.325/.296 over 151 plate appearances, before requesting his release.
While the signing appears to be a peculiar one for the Royals to make, there could be some further ramifications of the deal and the guarantees that the team allegedly has made, as Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star points out. Specifically, the signing could make one of Tony Abreu or Irving Falu expendable in Kansas City. The pair were expected to come to Spring Training and compete for a role off the bench within a group of infielders that already includes likely starters Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas, and Johnny Giavotella along with incumbent utility option Chris Getz. Now the picture suddenly appears to be a little murkier.
Abreu, 28, appeared in 22 games for the Royals last season, batting .257/.284/.357 over 74 plate appearances while seeing some time at second, third, and shortstop. The numbers aren’t far off his career line over parts of four seasons, having also spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. He had a strong season down at Triple-A as well, hitting .322/.347/.492 in 453 plate appearances with the team’s affiliate in Omaha. Abreu is now out of options, however, so the team will need to expose him to waivers if he doesn’t make the roster out of Spring Training. He’s spent most of his career playing up the middle and has posted some solid numbers throughout the minor leagues, so there’s a chance someone will take a chance that he can replicate that success with some regular playing time.
Falu, however, appears to be the one who could be more directly affected by Tejada’s signing. Falu still has an option remaining, likely leaving him destined for a return trip to Triple-A where he’s spent the better part of the past four seasons. He’s a career .291/.348/.376 hitter at the level over 1,933 plate appearances. The 29 year old made his MLB Debut this past season, getting into 24 games. He’d hit .341/.371/.435 over 91 plate appearances.
Tejada was once among the game’s top shortstops but those days are likely long behind him. The impact he’ll have on the Royals also remains to be seen, as his 2012 campaign leaves little to build any hopes around. Tejada’s contributions to the Royals next season remain unknown, though so too would the production that Abreu or Falu may have been able to bring to the table. Given the Royals precarious position building a roster that can be competitive for years to come, it’s questionable to understand the reasoning behind signing Tejada other than hoping that he’ll have a “strong veteran presence” in the clubhouse that could help some of these younger players who’s playing time he’ll be taking.