Mets fans angry over the team’s apparent frugality and unwillingness to give a second or third year to free agent should take solace in the latest news from ESPN’s Adam Rubin, who reported that while the Mets are willing to guarantee a multi-year deal for Drew, they are not going to acquiesce on agent Scott Boras’s latest demand: an opt-out clause after the first season.
Unable to find the $50-75 million dollar deal he was seeking at the beginning of the offseason, Drew wants the opportunity to immediately improve his free agent stock and re-enter the market after 2014, while also having the security of a long term contract. But for the Mets, who are unlikely to be playoff contenders in 2014, an opt-out clause would make any deal completely nonsensical.
A two or three year deal might be beneficial for the Mets, and a one year tender would provide a risk-free boost for 2014. A multi-year deal with an opt-out offers two outcomes: one only tolerable, the other decidedly negative.
Option number one: Drew has a great year in 2014 and puts up numbers similar to those he had with Arizona – around 15 home runs, .280 average, and an .810 OPS. The Mets still probably don’t make the playoffs and Drew leaves for a mammoth contract and never comes back. Option number two, the more dire one: Drew suffers a significant injury, as he has in two of the last three seasons, or struggles mightily in 2014 and the next couple Mets’ offseasons are hampered by the presence of an overpriced shortstop on the roster. If he hits, he leaves, if he gets hurt, he stays. The Mets assume all the risk with no opportunity for reward.
Perhaps an argument could be made for including the opt-out clause if the Mets were in some sort of bidding war over Drew, but they’re not. In fact, they seem to be the only team currently in the mix for the free agent shortstop. Ben Cherington, general manager of the Red Sox, Drew’s former team, told ESPN’s Jim Bowden today that he does not expect to reach an agreement with the free agent shortstop before the start of spring training, and that he is only maintaining negotiations out of respect for Scott Boras.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently wrote that the Mets are the favorites to land Drew, and no one other than Boras’ famed “mystery teams,” who may or may not exist seem to be serious contenders.
Bereft of other suitors, Stephen Drew is falling into the Mets’ lap. Without an opt-out clause, he could be a valuable and relatively inexpensive upgrade over incumbent Ruben Tejada. With the clause, he’ll likely end up somewhere else.