From Comcast SportsNetSANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Former AL MVP Miguel Tejada has reached a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals and says he is ready to return to the majors.The 38-year-old infielder got a one-year contract that will be worth 1.1 million if he makes the big leagues. There is an additional 400,000 in performance bonuses.The six-time All-Star last played in the majors in 2011 with San Francisco, hitting .239 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 91 games."I'm very pleased with this. The contract with the Royals is a done deal," Tejada told The Associated Press. " I'm going to try to help this team and their younger players. I'm so happy because this is what I was aiming for, a chance to get back to the majors."Tejada played 36 games in Triple-A for Baltimore last season, batting .259 with no homers and 18 RBIs. He was released from his minor league deal on June 25 at his own request when he didn't see an opportunity to play for the Orioles in the near future.Tejada has been playing for the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Republic Winter League. He says he lost 15 pounds during the summer."I believe I can be valuable for Kansas City in different facets. They haven't told me what specific role they have in mind for me, but what is important is that I'm healthy and I know that I can help," he said.Tejada spent 15 seasons in the majors and was the 2002 AL MVP with Oakland. He is a career .285 hitter with 304 homers and 1,282 RBIs with the A's, Orioles, Houston, San Diego and the Giants.
David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl.
What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass-rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.
But in a roundabout way he might.
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There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.
If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders.
Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.
Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).
For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich.
We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.
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