The New York Mets arguably capped their bench this evening, signing glove-first shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a one-year, $1.2 million deal. The 28 year-old spent the past 2.5 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he reigned as the starting man. That will not be the case in New York, however.
Cedeno owns a career .246/.286/.353 line in 2309 PA’s, and wasn’t much better in 2011 (.249/.297/.339). While the infielder did steal 12 bases in 2010–and stole as many as 22 bags in the Minor Leagues–Cedeno only stole 2 last season. So without any power (career .107 ISO), speed (34 career SB in 701 games), eye (19.8% K%), or on-base skills (career .286 OBP), Cedeno doesn’t offer a team much else besides his stellar defense. And stellar it is.
Cedeno has experience at second base, third base, and a little outfield, but his go-to position is shortstop. In 4492 innings, he’s owned a -1.6 UZR/150, but the 28 year-old really honed his skills at the position in 2011, posting a productive 6.8 UZR/150. In fact, his defense at shortstop was so valuable, that he earned a 1.4 fWAR–which was equivalent to $6.4 million.
As a pure defensive replacement, adding Ronny Cedeno to the Mets bench in 2012 isn’t a bad move. But, then again, one has to question what the difference truly is between Omar Quintanilla and Ronny Cedeno. Both are defense-first infielders, but at least Quintanilla has a track record of pop and on-base skills in the Minors. Even though Quintanilla hasn’t endured much success in the Majors (.213/.268/.284 line in 582 PA’s), Cedeno hasn’t exactly lit-up the league either (.246/.286/.353 line in 2309 PA’s). Hopefully the Mets don’t give too much playing time to Cedeno, and let Ruben Tejada showcase his skills in 2012.