Ruben Tejada already has his niche in New York Mets history. He is the shortstop who emerged as a sentimental favorite after his leg was broken by Chase Utley's hard slide in a National League Division Series game against the Dodgers.
While the leg has healed, Tejada may not be standing on firm ground when it comes to an Opening Day roster spot.
Although Tejada likely will break camp with the Mets, there's a possibility he could be traded or released before Opening Day, team officials tell ESPN’s Adam Rubin.
Tejada has been the Opening Day shortstop three of the past four years, but his role was diminished once the Mets signed free-agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year deal. The Mets already have a versatile backup infielder in Wilmer Flores, and he hits for more power than Tejada, writes Matt Ehalt of NorthJersey.com.
Tejada is scheduled to make $3 million, a high price for a backup infielder, but the Mets could cut him more than 15 days before the season opener and be responsible for only one-sixth of his salary.
Here are more rumors making the rounds as the calendar turns to March:
Eric Hosmer: Eligible for free agency after the 2017 season, Hosmer tells Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com he is open to signing a long-term deal to remain in Kansas City. "It's not like if [general manager] Dayton [Moore] came knocking on my door to talk about [a long-term contract] I would say no. Of course, not," Hosmer said. "But also, having just won a championship, it's not like you go making any demands to Dayton, either." The first baseman will be just 28 when he reaches free agency, giving him plenty of leverage. Look for Hosmer and his representatives to pay close attention to the extension talks the Royals are having with catcher Salvador Perez, another homegrown core player.
Bronson Arroyo: The 39-year-old right-hander tells MLB.com’s Jamal Collier his contract with the Nationals requires the club to tell him five days before camp breaks whether he has made the team. At this stage, Arroyo, who did not pitch in the majors last season, is competing with Tanner Roark or Joe Ross for the final spot in the rotation.
Justin Upton: The Tigers have not committed to where the free-agent signee will bat in the lineup, but a very early hint came Monday when he was slotted in the 2-hole for Monday’s exhibition game against Florida Southern College. Upton has spent a little more than half of his 4,934 career plate appearances in the third spot in the lineup. The second slot in the Detroit lineup will be in front of slugger Miguel Cabrera, and manager Brad Ausmus wants someone who can get on base, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com.
Giancarlo Stanton: The Marlins are open to the idea of batting Stanton in the cleanup spot instead of third, reports Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel. While batting third will ensure that Stanton comes up in the first inning, manager Don Mattingly wants Stanton to come up with runners on base as often as possible. The Marlins have kicked around the idea of using Christian Yelich as a No. 3 hitter, although he has yet to demonstrate the power normally associated with that spot.
Milwaukee Brewers: The most wide-open position battle in all of baseball may be center field for the Brewers. Nine players are competing in Arizona to play alongside Ryan Braun in left field and Domingo Santana in right field, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At this stage, there does not appear to be a morning-line favorite. The Brewers made trades for young outfielders Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores and Rymer Liriano and also have brought in veterans such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young Jr. and Alex Presley.