Dbacks have signed veteran 1B/3B/OF Mark Teahen to a minor league contract with a spring training invite.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) November 27, 2012
If you've read Moneyball, you're probably already familiar with Teahen, who was one of the A's seven first-round picks in the 2002 draft written about by Michael Lewis [though I note that, of those seven picks in the first 39 selections, only Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton have amounted to anything much]. There, scouting director Eric Kubota said of Teahen, "If you want to talk about another Jason Giambi, this guy could be it." However, Mark was traded to the Royals as part of a three-team trade, two years later, and made his major-league debut with Kansas City in 2005, being their Opening Day starter at third-base.
After 5 1/2 years in the Royals organization, Teahen was traded to the White Sox, where he spent the next season and a half, before being sent to Toronto in July 2011, along with former Diamondback Edwin Jackson. He was released by the Blue Jays that winter - they ate his $5.5 million salary for 2012 - and was picked up by Washington, but spent the entire year with their Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, putting up a line of .260/.328/.360. The 31-year-old left-hander (batting, anyway - he throws right-handed) has hit .264 in 3,171 plate-appearances.
His best year was 2006, when he put up a 122 OPS+ with the Royals, and it seemed comparisons with Giambi might have some validity. However, the next four years, his production ranged between 90 and 101 OPS+, and his last season in the majors, Teahen's offensive numbers crumbled entirely, with a .573 OPS over 177 PAs. His defense is supposed to be a strong point, but UZR doesn't seem to concur, with a career total of -35.3 at 3B, though admittedly almost half that was in his rookie year. He's better at first (UZR -0.3), but has only 26 career starts there, so I'm not how useful he'd be as a platoon partner for Paul Goldschmidt. He has a lot more time (258 starts) in right.
I'm inclined to think Reno is his most-likely destination, but we've seen with Jason Kubel how left-handed hitters can benefit from playing at Chase Field. However, since the start of 2010, and including Teahen's time in the minors, he has only ten home-runs in 977 at-bats, so doesn't appear to be quite Giambi-esque these days.
Random Teahen Factoids
- Though American born and raised, he also holds Canadian citizenship through his father, and played for them in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
- He has a Twitter account. Might be worth a follow, with quotes like "Always keep your eye on your goal....unless you're the goalie....in which case that could greatly hinder your productivity."
- Mark is only the seventh player since 1956 to start four consecutive Opening Day games at a different position: 3B in 2005, followed by right field, left field and second base the following three seasons.
- He and his wife Lauren have three dogs: Espy, Ribi, and Ricki B.
- Teahen was the 2009 winner of MLB's Hutch Award, "given annually to an active Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson."