It’s getting close to January, and there are still a bunch of big name (relatively speaking) free agents on the market. Of those who might be of interest to the Mets, Stephen Drew‘s name continues to pop up in the conversation.
Sandy Alderson noted recently that if the Mets were to upgrade the shortstop position, it would likely be via trade. That may be the case, but Alderson is someone who almost never tips his hand. For reference, see the Bartolo Colon signing.
Presently, the Mets’ depth chart at shortstop has Ruben Tejada sitting at the top. Tejada isn’t without hope, but he struggled mightily in 2013, was the recipient of multiple barbs from the front office, and has very limited upside. It would behoove the Mets to find an upgrade, and find one soon.
This is where Stephen Drew comes in.
It’s been reported all along that Drew likely has two suitors – the Red Sox (who he played for in 2013), and the Mets. By all accounts, the Red Sox have no intention of giving Drew a deal that exceeds two years. At this point, the Sox may not even have a reason to give Drew a deal at all.
Ready to step in for Boston at shortstop is top prospect Xander Bogaerts. According to Matt Silverman of The Boston Herald, if the Red Sox bring Drew back (Silverman says it would have to be a one or two year deal), Bogaerts would play third base and Will Middlebrooks would wind up in Triple-A. Recently added to the logjam, is Jonathan Herrera, a utility infielder the Red Sox acquired via trade a few days ago.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was recently quoted as saying he would love to have Drew back in the fold. At the same time, Farrell acknowledged that there might be better opportunities out there for Drew. Where might those opportunities be?
If you take a look around the league, you’ll notice that there are very few teams who have a need at shortstop and the budget to afford Drew.
Two teams who could use upgrades are the Twins and Astros (who both have protected first round picks), but it’s unlikely the Twins will bid for Drew. The Astros have money to burn, as evidenced by their interest in Shin-Soo Choo, but there haven’t been any reports linking them to Drew.
The Pirates are another team who could use an upgrade at short, but the fact that Drew is tied to draft pick compensation likely makes any union with Pittsburgh highly unlikely.
It would appear that the Mets could be in an ideal position to land Drew on their terms – if they want to. If the Red Sox are prepared to offer Drew a two year deal, the Mets would probably be able to land him by guaranteeing a third year.
However, there’s also a chance that Boston will refuse to guarantee more than one year to Drew. If that turns out to be the case, the Mets could land him for two years – something that seemed impossible after fellow free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta received a four year deal from St. Louis earlier in the offseason.
Drew isn’t a difference maker, but he’s a plus defender who offers pop at the plate, has a solid walk rate, and who won’t turn 31 until March. It’s up to the Mets to decide if Drew is worth it. Bringing Drew in would likely take a modest expansion of their budget, but it’s an outlay the Mets can easily afford.
So far this offseason, the Mets have added Chris Young and Curtis Granderson to the outfield, and have added Bartolo Colon to a rotation that was in need of an anchor with Matt Harvey out for most, if not all of the 2014 campaign. With the Ike Davis saga still going on, the other pressing agenda item is finding an upgrade at short.
If the Mets can upgrade shortstop via trade, that would be ideal. They’ve yet to find a trade partner, though, and Stephen Drew is sitting out there waiting to be plucked. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Mets reach out and grab him.