And with that, it’s as if no one has been paying attention for the last six seasons.
Original reports of the deal were of a guaranteed, $1.1MM contract – giving the impression that Tejada was signed to a major league deal – but those rumors were dispelled as the shortstop (in name only) that enters his age 39 season, was signed to a minor league contract, which would mean his salary is only guaranteed if he makes the team out of spring training and spends the entire season in the major leagues.
So in that respect, this deal makes sense on account of depth and depth alone. But c’mon, this is the Royals, and this is the same organization that acquired Yuniesky Betancourt a second time, with the intentions of playing his as a utility infielder, when his ability to play the infield defensively was apparent only in the fact that his name could be written on a lineup card next to a number that designated an infield position. With Tejada, well, it’s the same thing.
To be “meh” about this acquisition is understandable. The Royals have been searching for utility/backup infield help that they felt could adequately play shortstop. Irving Falu’s name had been mentioned, but tweets by Bob Dutton have referenced there’s concern within the organization that Falu could not be shortstop on an extended basis, if need be.
With Tejada the Royals get a “veteran presence” that further allows them to build a roster of mentors and fatherly figures to the young(ish) players on the roster that so much is riding on for the 2013 season. Of course, this is contingent on him actually making the big league roster out of spring training. (A key, and most likely the most important, point.) And when this type of acquisition is looked at solely on that fact, and without the perspective of what has happened over the past six seasons, signing Miguel Tejada to a minor league deal is of little consequence.
Except, when you look back at the past six seasons and more directly at the signing of Betancourt a year ago, the signing of Tejada is emblematic of the systematic failures of the organization during The Process.
Tejada hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2011. But because of his playing in the winter league, and because he’s a “nice man”, spring training at-bats and infield reps will be given to a player who arguably shouldn’t have the time of day wasted on him, in favor of some younger player, or at the very least someone who has proven some ability to shortstop at a competent level.
And then there’s this argument: Johnny Giavotella and second base.
Given what we know, what we’ve seen from the Royals, if you can’t foresee a scenario in which Tejada starts taking reps at second base and makes the team out of spring training – for reasons that go beyond any objective measure – and Giavotella once again is removed from any possibility of consistent, legitimate playing time, because Tejada “gives the team a better chance to win” while putting up a sub .300 on-base percentage, then you haven’t been paying attention for six years.
Mostly likely, any negative reaction to a signing like this is overreaction to a non-issue. At least, hopefully.
But there’s been too many head-scratching acquisitions to give the benefit of the doubt without first being skeptical. Miguel Tejada is exactly the type of player for which excuses for poor performance will be made out of some ruse of leadership or intangibles.
And if that happens, he’ll be owed 1.1 million dollars.
*After posting, there are now some reports that the deal will in fact be upgraded to a major league contract, as soon as there is space to place Tejada on the 40-man roster. We will update this post as more information is available.
*Bob Dutton is now confirming that Tejada indeed will be added to the 40-man roster just as soon as the Royals clear space. This is a guaranteed $1.1MM deal for a to-be 39 year old “infielder” that hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2011, and hasn’t had an on-base percentage above .312 since 2009: