With opening day around the corner, Sandy Alderson still has a chance to improve upon what most New York Mets fans could consider the usual offseason, and it might only take one more signing. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda will be the starting first baseman in 2014. What if the Mets went in a different direction?
In 2013, Mets first basemen ranked 13th in the National League in batting average, 14th in home runs (15), and dead last in runs batted in. The Mets also finished second to last in the league in hits (136) at first base.
Three signings have added over 30 million dollars in payroll for 2014. However, the writing on the wall still puts the club far apart from the N.L. East champion Atlanta Braves and 2012’s leader Washington Nationals on paper. An upgrade at shortstop was expected with the disappointment of Ruben Tejada‘s 2013 campaign but has yet to be made. Stephen Drew‘s name has been floating through the Mets organization since December, but the 30 year old free agent remains unsigned. Is Stephen Drew and the shortstop position what Alderson should be focused on primarily?
The three major signings the Mets made provided depth in the rotation with the addition of 40 year old veteran Bartolo Colon and serviceable outfielders with free agent acquisitions Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. Even with these two new offensive components, that hole at first base seems to be a major one.
Scott Boras has been dangling the bait for The Mets to bid big on Stephen Drew, and most Mets fans are hoping that Alderson bites. However, Mets fans should be wishing it’s another Boras client, who seems to be getting overlooked: Kendrys Morales is going into his age 30 season, and is statistically coming off one of his best.
In 2013, the Cuban switch hitter batted .277 for the Seattle Mariners with 23 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 33 doubles. He also struck out below the league average with 114 K’s in 602 at bats. Though Safeco Field is considered by many to be the most pitcher friendly park in the American League, Morales batted .282 at home and was one of the better hitters for the Mariners in 2013. His primary work last season was as a designated hitter – he also played in 31 games at first base and only committed one error.
Rightfully declining Seattle’s $14 million dollar qualifying offer, Morales is still a gem in free agency looking for a job. Mets fans are pleading for Sandy to pony up for Stephen Drew, but should there be more urgency regarding first base?
While Alderson might be wise to be gun shy on a multi-year deal with Drew, he should be prepared to pony up for Morales. For the next four years would he want to have either Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Or Kendrys Morales? Most fans should have their answer. The Mets have holes to fill; fans should be wondering if shortstop is the one that should be addressed next.