Blue Jays sign Ruben Tejada to help middle infield depth

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 16: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets bats in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 16, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - AUGUST 16: Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets bats in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 16, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays signed Ruben Tejada to a minor league contract on Friday, and the veteran should help with their middle infield depth in 2020.

One of the remaining off-season needs for the Blue Jays is a middle infielder capable of backing up Bo Bichette at shortstop. On Friday, they announced that they found someone to at least compete for that job during Spring Training, signing Ruben Tejada to a one-year, MiLB contract that includes an invite to Dunedin.

After the Blue Jays designated Richard Urena for assignment, it left them very thin for their shortstop depth in particular. Bichette is expected to receive the vast majority of the starts there in 2020, but having someone to cover for him in the event of an injury is important.

With all due respect to Brandon Drury, they don’t really have a player on the projected 25-man roster who could fill the role. They do have Santiago Espinal, who is expected to compete for the job as well, but signing Tejada will give them some important depth.

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The 30-year-old Tejada didn’t spend much time in the big leagues last year, collecting just nine at-bats over six games for the New York Mets. He spent the majority of last season in Triple-A, where he hit .326/.404/.471 across 73 games in 2020, and is a career .250/.324/.317 hitter at the big league level, spanning 663 games.

If Tejada’s name sounds familiar and you’re not sure why, it’s probably because of his unfortunate involvement in an infamous play during the 2015 playoffs. Tejada’s leg was broken when Chase Utley slide into second base to try and break up a double play, and that play had several repercussions. Tejada took roughly a year and a half before he was able to fully recover, and one could argue that his career never has.

As for Utley, the slide changed the way that Major League Baseball deals with the “takeout slide”, basically outlawing the practice. A player can now be called out if they leave the baseline and make contact with an infielder, and you can thank Utley’s overzealous slide for that rule adjustment.

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Hopefully the Panama native can come into camp with the Blue Jays and earn the utility man job, a role that the club still needs to fill. If he makes the team, the Jays will be his fifth MLB club, having spent time with the Mets, Cardinals, Orioles, and Giants.

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