Miguel Tejada: Plan D for the Minnesota Twins

Jeremiah Graves@cheapseatchronAnalyst INovember 17, 2009

KISSIMMEE, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Infielder Miguel Tejada #10 of the Houston Astros poses during photo day at Astros spring training complex on February 21, 2009 in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

“Miguel Tejada signs with the Minnesota Twins.”

Reading that headline now wouldn’t elicit the excitement it would have five years ago, but it’s still an intriguing proposition.

Five years ago, Tejada was one of baseball’s best players and had recently signed a massive six-year, $72 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

In the five years since, he has suffered through multiple steroid allegations at the hands of former teammates, inclusion in the Mitchell Report, a perjury charge, and it was revealed that he is two years older than he had claimed.

Those off the field controversies have taken their toll, and along with Father Time, have led to the slow and steady erosion of Tejada’s on field production.

The former American League Most Valuable Player has lost most of his power, having gone from 34 home runs in 2004 to a meager 14 last season.

Additionally, his defense at shortstop has gone from below average to downright ugly.

As a result, Tejada’s next starting gig figures to be as a corner infielder, with third base making the most sense given his strong throwing arm.

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No doubt, Tejada is far removed from his glory days with Oakland and Baltimore, but he can still be a valuable asset to a ballclub. He’s certainly no team’s first, or even second, choice this offseason, but he makes a lot of sense as Plan-D for the Minnesota Twins.

Tejada, a six-time All Star, can still hit and knows how to get on base at a good clip, despite not drawing many walks. His ability to get on base would make him an ideal No. 2 hitter for the Twins. He would also serve to break up lefties Denard Span and Joe Mauer.

His .313/.340/.455 line in 2009 was roughly in line with his career averages and, at 35 years old (or so we’re told), he figures to still have a few good years ahead of him before he's relegated to bench duty or retirement.

With that in mind, it makes sense for the Twins to at least consider signing Tejada to man the hot corner for next season.

Tejada, despite his age, has an incredible track-record for durability.

Since 1999, he’s played in 158 games or more every year, except for 2007 when a fractured wrist limited him to 133 games. He also had an incredible six-year run from 2001 to 2006, where he appeared in all 162 games every year.

Given the durability, or lack thereof, shown by last year’s third baseman, Joe Crede, Tejada would be a breath of fresh air.

After years of flip-flopping players in and out at third base, there’s no doubt that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would relish having a name he could consistently pencil in at third on his lineup card.

Durability notwithstanding, Tejada—much like the aforementioned Crede—only makes sense for the Twins if they can sign him to a one-year deal.

Unlike other third base options (i.e. Adrian Beltre), Tejada can only be viewed as a short-term placeholder for eventual successors, Danny Valencia or Luke Hughes.

At his age and with his skill set declining, Tejada shouldn’t be expecting many offers greater than one year, especially in a deflated market that is overrun with younger, more talented third basemen.

Tejada could seemingly be had on a one-year deal in the $5-7 million base salary range, with reachable incentives that could push the total value up to $10-12 million.

Tejada certainly won’t play for pennies, but someone as durable and steady as he is shouldn’t be worried about playing for incentives that he would figure to reach if he remains his usual healthy self for an entire season.

Obviously, Tejada is not the best option on the market and, in all honesty, is probably not even a top five option, but he is still an option.

If nothing else, he’s certainly a more appealing alternative to seeing Matt Tolbert or Brendan Harris in the starting lineup every day.

No one knows what the free agent market will look like when it opens on Friday and it is entirely possible the Twins will miss out on other, far more attractive, options.

If that’s the case, Tejada would make a solid Plan-D.

“Miguel Tejada signs with the Minnesota Twins.”

It may not be nearly as exciting as it once was, but it sure does have a nice ring to it.


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