Ruben Tejada now free agent after six years with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Infielder Ruben Tejada's days with the New York Mets are over.

Tejada went unclaimed while on waivers and has been released by the ballclub. He now becomes a free agent.

The 26-year-old Tejada was due to make $3 million this season, his final year before free agency. But when the Mets tendered him a contract on Dec. 2, they did not foresee adding two middle infielders later that month -- Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Because the Mets released Tejada more than 15 days before Opening Day, they are responsible for only 30 days of salary -- $491,803.28.

Now that Tejada is a free agent and will not cost the full $3 million, the St. Louis Cardinals might be among the teams interested. St. Louis has lost shortstop Jhonny Peralta for the first few months of the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery to repair.

Even with Cabrera potentially opening the season on the disabled list with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, the Mets were comfortable parting with Tejada. Wilmer Flores can handle shortstop until Cabrera is ready, and prospect Matt Reynolds can serve as a backup.

Eric Campbell and Reynolds appear the big winners with Tejada's ouster. Both seemingly are headed for the Opening Day roster, assuming Cabrera begins the season on the disabled list.

Tejada ranked second in longevity on the Mets. He debuted with the club on April 7, 2010. Only David Wright has been around longer.

"I've had the pleasure of watching Ruben grow into a quality player and a tremendous teammate," Wright said Wednesday. "Ruben has produced many big hits for us and became an inspiration to this organization and the city during our playoff run last year. I will be rooting for Ruben and he will be missed."

Tejada had returned healthy this spring training after suffering a fractured fibula in his right leg on a slide from Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Tejada hit .261 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 360 at-bats last season.