NEW YORK -- One day after a report indicated that shortstop Ruben Tejada is considering filing a grievance against the Mets over service-time issues, general manager Sandy Alderson defended his right to recall players from the Minors if and when he sees fit.
"From our standpoint, we feel that we have a right to bring up a player or not bring up a player," Alderson said, referring to Tejada and the Mets' other September callups. "We have a right to determine when he comes up. And so we exercised that discretion across the board with respect to eight or nine players, or however many we brought up."
According to Yahoo! Sports, Tejada could file a grievance over the timing of his September callup, which postponed his earliest free-agent eligibility from after the 2016 season until after the 2017 season. A spokesman for Legacy Group, which represents Tejada, did not respond to multiple telephone messages. But Alderson responded on Tuesday, explaining why the Mets waited to recall Tejada until three days after Triple-A Las Vegas' season ended.
"I think our position is that we have very wide discretion in how we call up players in September," Alderson said. "In the case of all of these players, we exercised that discretion and brought some up at a particular time and some up at a later time. That was totally within our right to do.
"We had staggered callups. It was partly a function of need. It was partly a function of Las Vegas and the fact that they were in the playoffs, and so it was a variety of factors that we looked at."
Alderson added that the situation may even have little to do with Tejada, considering a successful grievance would allow another member of the Major League Baseball Players Association to qualify for Super Two arbitration eligibility.
Still, it has underscored what appears to be a rift between Tejada and the Mets, who are openly courting free-agent shortstops this winter.
Two years ago, when Tejada entered Spring Training as the heir apparent to Jose Reyes, manager Terry Collins publicly criticized him for not reporting early like most of his teammates. Tejada went on to have a disappointing season, dropping his on-base percentage from .360 to .333 and his OPS from .696 to .685.
The Mets tinkered with Tejada's swing a year later and considered demoting him amidst some early struggles, ultimately avoiding that decision when he suffered a major right quad injury for the second straight year. Rather than recall Tejada after he regained his health, they kept him in Las Vegas until Sept. 10.
A week before that promotion, Alderson criticized the shortstop on WFAN radio, likening the team's requests for him to do extra work to "pulling teeth."
"Extra batting practice, extra this, extra that, doesn't happen unless someone else is insisting on it," Alderson said. "We need to see a commitment to improvement. And he's very young. He got to the big leagues at an early age. He was essentially given a regular position at an early age. And now he's been put in the position where he's going to have to earn it."
Now 24, Tejada is at risk of losing his job, whether he files and wins a grievance or not. The Mets have already met with free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta this offseason, they figure to check into Stephen Drew as well, and they should be active in the trade market. Multiple team officials said last month that they consider finding a new shortstop a priority.