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Ruben Tejada expected to remain Met, but trade more likely than release

Ruben Tejada is due to make $3 million this season, but the Mets could clear $2.25 million of that if they release him before Opening Day. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ruben Tejada likely will break camp with the New York Mets as a backup infielder along with Wilmer Flores. Still, there is a possibility Tejada could be traded or released before Opening Day, team officials acknowledge.

Tejada is due to earn $3 million in 2016 before becoming a free agent next offseason. When the Mets tendered him a contract on Dec. 2, they were pursuing Ben Zobrist and had yet to land any infielders. Ultimately, the Mets traded for second baseman Neil Walker and signed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, which marginalized Tejada's role.

The Mets could cut Tejada more than 15 days before the season opener and be responsible for only one-sixth of his salary -- $500,000. If they waited until after that date, they could release him before Opening Day and be responsible for one-quarter of the salary -- $750,000.

Under what circumstances would the Mets part with Tejada?

A team official indicated that Matt Reynolds or Dilson Herrera would really have to distinguish himself during spring training, forcing his way onto the roster as a backup. And in that scenario, which is not the likelihood, the Mets would be more likely to trade Tejada. There is some allure to saving as much as $2 million (when the salary of the roster replacement such as Reynolds or Herrera is factored in).

Outfielder Alejandro De Aza also should be available late in camp, given the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes late in the offseason.

Tejada has shown no apparent ill effects from the fractured fibula he suffered in his right leg on a slide by Chase Utley in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. Tejada worked out at third base on Sunday.