Ruben Tejada has survived the shortstop wars. With Wilmer Flores optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas today, Tejada is clearly the New York Mets‘ starting shortstop. In fact, he’s the Mets’ only shortstop.
Tejada played better once Flores was recalled on May 9, perhaps feeling the pressure of losing his job. Since then, Tejada has hit a respectable .276/.387/.381 while playing competent defense. He’s hitting .234/.348/.303 overall.
Flores hit .225/.253/.300 in 83 scattered plate appearances for the Mets. He never had a stretch of consistent playing time; he never even started at shortstop for a full week at a time. Now he’ll return to the 51s and will presumably play second base most of the time, since shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A last week.
Shortstop clearly is not Flores’ position. He was passable at the major league level but doesn’t currently have the range to be a plus defender there. Also, already at 2o5 pounds at age 22, Flores still has some growing to do into his 6-foot-3 frame. If he gets any bigger, shortstop is definitely not in his future.
Now Tejada has to prove the Mets made the right decision. It’s no secret that the Mets’ front office has been sour on Tejada for a few years. They came down on him for merely showing up to Spring Training a couple of years back, they’ve constantly questioned his conditioning and they’ve been frustrated with his lack of skills. But Tejada has run the gauntlet of doubt and played his way into this position. And he’s going to have to play every day.
The only thing close to a backup shortstop the Mets have is Eric Campbell, who played in a handful of games at the position in Triple-A. The Mets do have six outfielders on their roster now, so they have that going for them, which is nice.