Rubén Dario Tejada
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
Rubén Tejada made a splash in his pro debut in 2007.
Tejada was signed by scouts Wilfredo Blanco and Alex Zapata and international scouting director Ismael Cruz for the New York Mets in 2006. He debuted with a bang, hitting .364/.466/.479 with 16 steals (in 21 tries), 32 runs and 25 RBI in 32 games for the 2007 VSL Mets. That earned him a promotion to the GCL Mets, where he batted .283/.401/.367 in 35 contests despite being very young for the league at age 16.
Tejada hit .229/.293/.296 in 2008 for the St. Lucie Mets. He produced at a .233/.284/.291 rate for the Honolulu Sharks of the Hawaii Winter League that fall. Panama placed him on their roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He went 0 for 4 in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and committed at least two errors at shortstop.
In 2009, Tejada improved to .289/.351/.381 with the Binghamton Mets and stole 19 bases in 22 tries. He turned 76 double plays at shortstop, tying Cale Iorg for the Eastern League lead at the position.
Tejada made the Mets' opening day roster in 2010, filling in while Jose Reyes began the year on the disabled list. In his first at-bat in The Show, he pinch-hit for Francisco Rodriguez against Leo Nunez and popped out. He hit only .213 in 78 games for the Mets that season, splitting time between second base and shortstop, but took a major step forward in 2011 while again backing up both middle infield positions. He improved to .284 with a .360 OBP in 96 games at age 21, giving the Mets the sense that they had a replacement for Reyes, who was about to become a free agent. He did win the starting shortstop job in 2012, but endured some criticism for reporting late to spring training, and then saw his hitting regress, with a .333 OBP even if his batting average climbed to .289. He missed most of May and June with a quad injury that limited him to 114 games, but did hit 26 doubles. He started 2013 slowly, however, as he struggled to keep his average over .200. The Mets were thinking about demoting him to AAA Las Vegas when he reinjured his quadriceps on May 29th, putting him on the disabled list. He was hitting .209 at the time. When he was healthy again, the Mets decided to keep him in Las Vegas, where he hit .288 with a .337 OBP in 60 games, only bringing him back to the Big Apple in late September. In the meantime, veteran Omar Quintanilla got most of the playing time at shortstop, as Tejada ended the year with a batting line of .202/.259/.260 in 57 games. After the season, Tejada threatened to file a grievance against the Mets, stating that keeping him in AAA was a purely financial decision meant to decrease his service time in order to delay his eligibility for salary arbitration. GM Sandy Alderson dismissed the allegations, stating: "From our standpoint, we feel that we have a right to bring up a player or not bring up a player. We have a right to determine when he comes up. And so we exercised that discretion across the board with respect to eight or nine players, or however many we brought up."
Tejada was back in New York in 2014, playing 119 games as the team's starting shortstop. He hit .237 with 5 homers and 34 homers while the team began to show interesting things on the field in the second half, managing to tie the Atlanta Braves for second place in the NL East. In 2015, the Mets continued to improve, as they won the NL East title, upsetting the heavily-favored Washington Nationals. Ruben played 116 games, getting most of his work at shortstop, but also seeing time at second and third base. He hit .268 with 3 homers and 28 RBIs and was favored over the better-hitting Wilmer Flores as the Mets headed into the postseason. However, in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 10th, he was wiped off his feet by an aggressive slide by Chase Utley, landed awkwardly and broke his fibula, ending his season. He therefore missed the opportunity to play in the World Series. The Mets cried foul and Utley was given a two-game suspension (later overturned) while during the off-season, the rules governing sliding were tightened, to prevent exactly the type of dangerous move that had led to his injury. It was bittersweet revenge for Tejada, however, as he found himself in spring training in 2016 without a job to aim at, given the Mets still had Flores and had added veteran middle infielders Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera in the off-season, with prospect Matt Reynolds in the wings. Tejada was victim of the numbers' crunch and on March 15th was placed on waivers. Four days later, he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals to a one-year contract.
The Cardinals were looking to Tejada to start at shortstop at the beginning of the 2016 season, because of the unavailability of the injured Jhonny Peralta, but just as spring training was winding down, Tejada himself went down with an injury, a left quadriceps strain, putting the Cardinals in a quandary. He was reactivated on April 18th, but by then rookie Aledmys Diaz had claimed the starting job, at least for the time being, as he was hitting .406.