T.J. RIVERA, SECOND BASEMAN
|Born: October 27, 1988
Signed: Non-Drafted Free Agent, 2011 (Mets)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
College: Troy University
WTM’s PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Rivera has had a surprising career. He wasn’t drafted out of high school or college, signing with the Mets as an NDFA. He seemingly was slated to be an organizational player, but just kept hitting. He doesn’t walk much and has only modest power, but he has a remarkable track record of hitting .300 just about everywhere, including his 300+ at bats in the majors. He finally reached the majors in 2016 at age 27, but had Tommy John surgery during the next season and hasn’t gotten much opportunity since. He’s roughly split his time in the majors between first, second and third, with a few games in left. His most frequent position in the minors has been second, but he’s played a lot at third and short. He hasn’t played short, though, since 2015. The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal in May 2021.
Rivera played mostly second in his debut. He saw time at two short-season levels and hit well.
The Mets moved Rivera up to low A and he hit very well, so they moved him to high A at mid-season and he hit over .300 again. He spent two-thirds of his time at short and the rest at second.
Despite his performance the previous year, the Mets sent Rivera back to high A for the entire season. He hit decently but not as well as the prior year. He played mostly at second.
The Mets sent Rivera back to high A yet again and he had a great half-season, so they finally moved him up to AA, where he kept hitting.
Once again, Rivera’s hitting just earned him a return trip to the same level. He hit his way to AAA and kept hitting there.
Rivera returned to AAA and had his best season. He was no doubt helped by the hitting environment at Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. The Mets finally called him up in August and he continued to hit.
Rivera opened the season in the majors, was sent to AAA briefly and returned. He continued to hit more or less like always, but he went out near the end of July with an elbow injury. He ended up having Tommy John surgery.
Rivera returned in July and began a rehab in the minors, but reinjured the elbow after a few games.
The Mets released Rivera during spring training. He signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in July and got into 23 games with them. The Nationals signed him in August and he played briefly for their AA team. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Phillies.
The pandemic struck before Rivera played for the Phillies and they released him in May. He didn’t play anywhere in the US in 2020. He signed to play for the Ducks again in 2021, before their season started, signed a minor league deal with the Pirates.
The Pirates signed Rivera after a series of injuries and promotions left Indianapolis short of infielders. He has an impressive track record of hitting, but hasn’t played much since 2017.
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 5/23/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: 2021
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: August 10, 2016
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2011)
MLB Service Time: 2.054
|June 15, 2011: Signed by the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent.
August 10, 2016: Contract purchased by the New York Mets.
March 9, 2019: Released by the New York Mets.
August 4, 2019: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Washington Nationals.
November 4, 2019: Became a free agent.
December 15, 2019: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies.
May 29, 2020: Released by the Philadelphia Phillies.
May 14, 2021: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates