According to Joel Sherman’s afternoon column for the New York Post, the Mets’ top priority this offseason is upgrading the shortstop position – whether that upgrade comes via free agency or trade.
As Sherman points out, the OPS put up by the Mets’ shortstops in 2013 was the worst production since 1977:
Mets shortstops produced a .561 OPS last year, the worst by the franchise since the .478 of 1977, when the Mets’ primary shortstops were Bud Harrelson, Doug Flynn, Mike Phillips and, yep, Bobby Valentine. Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla were better than that. But not by enough. Consider that there were 337 players with 225 or more plate appearances last year and Tejada’s .519 OPS ranked 336th.
Sherman believes that Stephen Drew will command a four year deal worth roughly $48 million, and feels the Mets would balk at Drew at that price. He then goes on to list five shortstops he thinks could be solid fits for the Mets – Jhonny Peralta, Rafael Furcal (cringe), Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, and Jed Lowrie.
There has been such a laser like focus on the Mets’ needs in the outfield that it seems their shortstop situation sometimes gets a bit overlooked.
I agree with Sherman’s assertion that the Mets would balk if it took four guaranteed years to land Stephen Drew, and think the Mets would be smart to do so.
I disagree and cower in agony with the placement of Rafael Furcal on Sherman’s list. Furcal shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than a bench piece at this point.
Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius and Jed Lowrie would all need to be acquired via trade – which would mean the Mets having to part with chips they might otherwise use in an effort to acquire a power hitting outfielder.
Aybar is solid, but not great, and Gregorius is unproven. If the Mets are going to go the trade route for a shortstop (and Troy Tulowitzki or Jurickson Profar aren’t attainable for them), their target should be Lowrie.
Still, Lowrie has a profile similar to that of Jhonny Peralta (though Lowrie is two years younger). They both offer pop and play the position adequately. If it came down to dealing pieces for Lowrie or committing just money for Peralta, I’d expect the Mets to go for the latter.