Opening day is less than three weeks away, and the Mets’ current shortstop – by default – is the much maligned Ruben Tejada. However, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if the Mets upgraded the position with an external acquisition between now the first pitch of the 2014 season on March 31st.
The Mets – Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson specifically – badmouthed Tejada after the season, questioning his work ethic. When you couple that with the fact that Tejada’s performance has taken a dive since 2012, you get a situation that is likely not tenable in the long run.
Although the Mets have yet to replace Tejada, they have been searching for someone to step in for him since the offseason began.
According to John Harper of the Daily News, the search continues:
As a result, a club source on Tuesday said the Mets continue to scout the Mariners’ Nick Franklin, trying to decide whether he can play shortstop well enough to justify the pop in his bat — not to mention giving up one of their young starting pitchers for him. Meanwhile, a source affiliated with another ballclub, who has past ties to GM Sandy Alderson, said the Mets are continuing to monitor the Diamondbacks’ shortstop competition, and “could jump in” to try to make a trade for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before spring training ends.
It’s been reported that the Mariners are seeking a young starting pitcher in return for Nick Franklin, while the Diamondbacks are interested in a young catcher who can step in as their starter in a year or so in exchange for either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings.
It would seem that the Mets match up better with Seattle, and the Mets have been scouting Franklin in an effort to determine if he can handle shortstop full time (something most scouts, including Keith Law, believe he can do at an adequate level). The Mariners have also been scouting pretty much every Mets game, often with more than one scout in attendance.
As far as the Diamondbacks being a match, the Mets could attempt to center a deal around catcher Kevin Plawecki, who will likely open this season in Double-A. If the Diamondbacks want more, the Mets could sweeten the pot with a lower level arm. However, anything more would be a major overpay.
Then there’s always Stephen Drew, the free agent shortstop who is still holding out hope that one team will blink and give him the contract he’s been waiting for. Drew’s agent Scott Boras has floated the idea that Drew may wait until after the June draft to sign – when any team who signs him would no longer be forced to give up a draft pick by signing him.
However, with Ervin Santana recently signed, the only two big free agents still out there are Drew and Kendrys Morales. If Morales signs soon, it’s hard to envision Drew continuing what’s becoming a bit of a farce for much longer.
The Mets have a host of options here, and they certainly don’t sound like a team that’s resting on its laurels. Here’s what general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday after being asked about Ruben Tejada:
We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.
The above isn’t something you say about someone when you’re prepared to make him a starting player for your team.
The Mets’ shortstop situation – and it is a situation – has gone on for a long time, and it’s been a bit aggravating to follow. Still, that doesn’t mean the end result will be disappointing. I still fully expect the Mets to upgrade the position between now and the end of camp. Any of the external options noted above would be just fine.