Tejada to The Other Part of The Bay

About four years ago, Baseball Prospectus offered this exchange during the Winter Meetings:

Scene: Cal Ripken, Steve Finley and Jim Leyritz are sitting on a couch in the Opryland hotel.
Observer: “All that’s missing is Brian Sabean and a pen.”

Sabean’s flair for employing the senior citizens of the baseball player population is unrivaled. The league’s best social activist has struck again, this time by inking 36-year-old Miguel Tejada to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million. Although early indications were that Tejada would man shortstop, reports since have the team still interested in trading for Jason Bartlett. How that affects Tejada’s playing time or position is anyone’s guess.

Over the last three seasons, Tejada’s win values have descended from 3.3 to 2.8 to 1.3. A 5-4-3 weighing places him at 2.3 wins, but there is at least one reason to believe that would be an optimistic projection. Tejada turns 37 in May and his offensive skill set relies heavily on making contact. A little over 4% of his plate appearances in 2010 ended in walks; representing a career best since the 2007 season ended. The Tejada capable of an ISO over .190 isn’t walking through that door. Heck, the Tejada capable of posting an above league average ISO (between .152 and .155 the last three seasons) might not be walking through that door.

If we can step into a hypothetical reality for a second and pretend that Tejada’s .325 wOBA with the Padres is representative of his true talent level when motivated; and if we can say he’s probably a below average fielder (to something like a negative five run degree, give or take). If we can say those assertions, then we can say Tejada’s ceiling is something like a two-win player. Even if the market rate for wins is still only $4 million or so, there is reason to believe Tejada can earn his team a surplus value without having to play out of his mind.

Stepping outside of the WAR-to-wages analysis room for a second, it is worth noting that the shortstop market is still scorched ground. The free agent portion of the market is not yet to the point of such severity that the Giants had to choose between Tejada or a replacement level player, but it’s not a pretty environment. The trade market isn’t much better. Relative to the deal Juan Uribe received, this seems like a smarter alternative.

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Vicky Vette
13 years ago

seems like a dumb move to me.