RHP ∙ 2008—11
Robinson Tejeda is unique on this list as the only player acquired via waivers. In mid-2008, the KC bullpen was banged up and in need of warm bodies. The Rangers waived Tejeda, and Dayton Moore scooped him up, saying, “Our scouts liked him as somebody with a power arm that could be used in a variety of roles—long or short…We had several people in our organization who felt that he’s a guy with more upside.”[i] Tejeda had limited time and success in the majors between 2005—07, and had been used mostly as a starter. Too many walks were always his bugaboo, which did not exactly change with KC, but he limited the damage better.
The Royals used him in a mop-up role for the remainder of 2008, but he pitched excellently and earned a spot start late in the season that went well. His strikeout and homerun rates saw improvement with the move to the bullpen. His fastball sat at 94-95, and according to Tejeda, “You never know where it’s going to move. Sometimes it moves away, sometimes it moves in, down, up.”[ii] The success in ’08 fueled the possibility of Tejeda joining the rotation in ’09, but he ended up back in the ‘pen to start the year. He was trusted with higher leverage situations and started and ended the season well, with a hiccup in the middle while he battled an injury. He was given the chance to audition as a starter for six games in September, and the early returns were exciting: He allowed a total of two runs combined in the first four starts. He backed off the velocity on his fastball a bit which allowed him to spot it better.
There was legitimate hope he could turn into an impact starter, but his control never showed up at spring training in 2010 and he found himself back in the bullpen. His control was MIA for the first month of the season (he walked 13 in his first 9.1 innings), but returned for the remainder of the year (13 walks in his last 51.2 innings). He had worked his way up from mop-up duty in ’08 to a mid-leverage guy in ’09 to a seventh and eighth inning, high-leverage arm in ’10. After the early trouble, he cruised through the bulk of the 2010 season holding down late, close leads until a biceps tendon strain shut him down for much of August. He was locked into the eighth inning setup role entering 2011, but things went badly right away. The gas was gone from his heater, and soon there was a diagnosis of shoulder inflammation. After some rehab, some of the velocity came back, but Tejeda was not the pitcher he had been, and he ended up spending almost all of 2011 in Omaha. He never made it back to the majors. Like so many other pitchers, arm trouble cut his career short. But not before he had put together three full solid seasons for the Royals. Not bad for a guy plucked off the waiver wire.
[i] Dick Kaegel, “Royals claim Tejeda off waivers,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080624&content_id=2993679&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc, June 24, 2008.
[ii] Dick Kaegel, “Royals bring familiar, new to twinbill,” http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080913&content_id=3466287&vkey=news_kc&fext=.jsp&c_id=kc, September 13, 2008.