The Mets are in need of a shortstop upgrade and recent reports have linked them to free agent Stephen Drew and Nick Franklin of Seattle. There’s somewhere else the Mets can look for a shortstop: Arizona.
The Diamondbacks have a glut of shortstops – both at the big league level and on the cusp of the majors. Writes Nick Peocoro of AZCentral:
The Diamondbacks are loaded with shortstops. Beyond [Chris] Owings and [Didi] Gregorius, they have a serviceable backup in Cliff Pennington on the major league roster. They also have prospect Nick Ahmed, a defensive wizard who hit much better as last season progressed.
According to Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, the club may be willing to deal one of their young shortstops (likely Owings or Gregorius) in a deal centered around a young catcher:
Our biggest needs in our system are catching. If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect. Someone we could have right behind Miggy [Miguel Montero]. More of an upper-level guy. Maybe a top, upper-end starter. We have a lot of bullpen depth, infielders. Maybe an outfielder, but probably more catching and Double-A, Triple-A type starter.
Owings, 22, had a triple slash of .291/.361/.382 in his first taste of the big leagues in 2013 (over just 61 plate appearances). He profiles as someone who has the potential to be above average on both sides of the ball while offering solid pop and above average speed.
Gregorius, 24, had a triple slash of .252/.332/.373 last season for Arizona over 404 plate appearances (he got a very brief taste of the bigs in 2012 with Cincinnati). He’s a solid defender and has pop at the plate, but isn’t as well rounded as Owings.
Who could the Mets offer in exchange for either Owings or Gregorius?
As far as the young catcher, the Mets can dangle highly touted Kevin Plawecki, who will likely open the year with Double-A Binghamton and who is starting to get noticed throughout the industry. Scouts, including Keith Law of ESPN, view Plawecki as a top prospect who will almost certainly be a starter in the majors.
There’s nothing wrong with having multiple premium catching options in your organization, which is what the Mets currently have with Travis d’Arnaud at the big league level and Plawecki about a year away. Still, if the Mets can move Plawecki in order to upgrade at shortstop, they should think about doing so.
Things might get complicated if the Diamondbacks seek a pitching prospect along with a young catcher in order to pry either Owings or Gregorius away. If the Mets are already parting with Plawecki, I’d make Rafael Montero off limits. However, a deal with Arizona is definitely something the Mets should explore.