It was reported last night that free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta was on the verge of agreeing to a multiyear deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Peralta, 31, was reportedly the free agent shortstop who was at the top of the Mets’ list. With Peralta off the board, what direction should the Mets go in?
First, let’s talk about who shouldn’t be an option.
Ruben Tejada, 24, can’t possibly be the answer. Last season, Tejada was a mess both in the field and at the plate, and fell out of favor with his manager and the front office. According to Sandy Alderson, Tejada refused to put extra work in – making the fact that he landed in the doghouse completely explainable.
Tejada isn’t a complete disaster (he was serviceable in both 2011 and 2012), but he offers no power and fringy defense. Last season, in addition to incurring the wrath of those in charge, Tejada had a triple slash of .202/.259/.260, and spent a chunk of the season in Triple-A before being recalled in September and breaking his fibula.
If Sandy Alderson hadn’t publicly questioned Tejada’s work ethic while noting that upgrading shortstop was one of his top priorities, giving Tejada another shot wouldn’t have been crazy. At this point, though, the Mets handing the job to Tejada would be something of an embarrassment.
Another shortstop who has been discussed is Rafael Furcal, who may not even be ready for the start of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery eight months ago. Even if he’s healthy, Furcal is a shell of what he once was. He shouldn’t be an option.
This offseason has long been the one that the Mets have been pointing to as the one where they’d have the wiggle room to make impact moves.
With at least $25 million left to spend on external acquisitions (according to what Sandy Alderson has said), the Mets need to add another outfielder and upgrade at shortstop.
One logical choice would be free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. However, Drew is represented by Scott Boras and will cost whoever signs him a draft pick (in the case of the Mets, their second rounder). I’d be all for Drew, but if the Mets balked at Peralta’s price, odds are that they’ll balk at Drew’s as well.
That leaves the trade market.
There have been reports (stemming from comments from ownership) that the Rockies aren’t open to dealing Troy Tulowitzki. That’s all well and good, but it appears that Colorado’s baseball operations department would be open to moving him. The Mets should make the call.
There have been reports that Arizona is open to trading slick fielding Didi Gregorius in order to clear a spot for Chris Owings. Gregorius, who turns 24 in February, had a triple slash of .252/.332/.373 last season for the Diamondbacks in 404 plate appearances. He hit 7 home runs, 16 doubles, and 3 triples, while driving in 28 runs and scoring 47. The Mets should make the call.
The Rangers just acquired Prince Fielder, seemingly clearing a spot for top prospect Jurickson Profar. However, there have been some reports that the Rangers could still deal Profar. For the Mets to pry Profar way from Texas, the Rangers would have to be open to Noah Syndergaard as the centerpiece of the deal. The Rangers may want an outfielder instead, but the Mets should still make the call.
As is noted above, what the Mets cannot do is head into 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop. The Mets can either swallow hard and pay for Stephen Drew, or find a trade partner.