Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi appeared on WEEI radio last night, and discussed a variety of topics. Among them, were the future of Ruben Tejada, his opinion of the current free agent market for shortstops, and thoughts on surrendering draft picks in order to sign free agents.
On whether or not the Mets are “happy” with potentially heading into 2014 with Tejada as their starting shortstop, Ricciardi had the following to say:
I think we are. He’s a young player…a lot of them don’t realize what it takes to play every day. I think in Ruben’s case, he got a lot early in his career and I think he’s starting to realize that he has to work a lot harder than he has in the past, and he has. To his credit, he really has. But as a young player, they get to the big leagues, some things happen for them and they forget how tough it is to stay there. I think he’s at that stage in his career. I think next year he’s going to be a better player than he was this previous year.
The above quote from Ricciardi, while not damning, is far from a ringing endorsement of Tejada.
Ricciardi was asked about free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, and didn’t speak about him directly. However, he did weigh in on the current market for free agent shortstops in general:
Sometimes there’s just supply and demand and I think right now there’s just not a lot of demand for shortstops. It’s funny how it works. Sometimes there’s a lot of opportunities for free agents, but sometimes the market is a little bit of a stonewall. I think in this case there’s a lot of shortstops that are already in place.
What Ricciardi is saying is in line with what most have been saying over the last week: the market for Drew is thin, and it’s because most teams either have shortstops they’re happy with or are wary of committing money and/or sacrificing an unprotected first round draft pick for Drew.
If Ricciardi’s view of the market is accurate, it bodes well for the Mets if they are legitimately interested in bringing Drew on board.
One thing that could give the Mets pause, is the fact that signing Drew would result in the club having to surrender their third round draft pick. On the subject of giving up picks while importing talent, Ricciardi noted:
No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft. You can’t build a team through the draft because they just don’t all work out. But you can supplement your system, and I get all that. But if you’re telling me I have a chance to get Curtis Granderson over a second round pick I think I’m going to take my chances with a proven major league player as opposed to maybe a high school or college kid that may or may not become Curtis Granderson.
Hindsight is 20-20 and we can all go back and look at guys where they were drafted and what happened to them, but in the end, the major league players, the proven major league player, has a lot more value to me than the Double A kid, the Triple A kid or even the kid who is drafted. I wouldn’t hesitate to give up a draft pick. If I’m the Houston Astros or a club like that who is still building, I might not be as engaged to do it. But if I’m a club that is looking to get closer to being good, I might be more inclined to do it.
To sum up Ricciardi’s comments: he “thinks” the Mets are happy with Ruben Tejada, believes that it’s currently a buyers market for shortstops, and he isn’t opposed to giving up draft picks in order to add established major league talent to a team that is “looking to get closer to being good.”
The Mets may sign Stephen Drew, they may not, but Ricciardi’s comments certainly make it sound like a possibility. For now, we’ll continue to wait.