In Elvis Andrus, Texas has the answer at shortstop for Mets

By Rob Curry

The New York Mets kicked off their offseason with the signing of Michael Cuddyer. He brings a formidable bat into the middle of the lineup as well as veteran leadership in the clubhouse alongside his longtime friend David Wright. However, his bat will not be enough to push the Mets over the top. The Mets still need to fill one more hole in their roster.

It has been well documented for the last three years that the Mets need a shortstop to replace Jose Reyes. Since the departure of Reyes at the end of the 2011 season, a Mets shortstop has posted a WAR over 2.0 only once. That was in 2012 when Ruben Tejada had the best year of his career posting a .289/.333/.351 slash line and a 2.1 WAR. In the seasons since, Mets shortstops have posted a combined WAR of -0.7. To say the Mets need an upgrade would be an understatement.

For the first time in many years, the Mets have what every teams want: an abundance of young, power pitching. Knowing this, Sandy Alderson needs to get creative and deal smartly from his team’s strength to pull in a middle-to-top tier shortstop to put his team over the top.

There has been much coverage about a potential trade with the Cubs, Mariners, and Diamondbacks just to name a few. Chicago is reportedly asking for Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom – both of whom should be untouchable in my opinion – in exchange for Starlin Castro.. The shortstops the Mariners and DBacks are offering are not enough of an upgrade to get me to pull the trigger on a deal. The team Alderson should be in contact with is the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers have stated that they are listening to offers on Elvis Andrus and are looking for a middle of the rotation starting pitcher, catcher, and left fielder this offseason. The only catch is that Andrus is due 120 million dollars over the next eight years and is coming off of a down year in which he posted career lows in batting average (.263) and on base percentage (.314).

Regardless of his 2014, I think Alderson needs to work hard on a trade with Texas. He would ideally only have to give up one of his young pitchers (say Rafael Montero) and Jon Niese or Dillion Gee. The Rangers are not looking for a future ace so the Mets would not have to give up any of their most thought of young studs. The Mets could even throw in one of their young outfielders (Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker) if Texas is willing to pay a portion of Andrus’ contract.

Andrus would provide a huge boost atop the lineup combining speed (192 career SBs in 6 seasons), and a solid average (career .272). He is only 26 years of age, is likely to rebound in 2015, and will only be 34 at the conclusion of his contract. While it would be fun to fantasize about a scenario where Jose Reyes returns to Queens via trade from the Blue Jays, the more realistic scenario is a trade that brings in Elvis Andrus. Sandy Alderson would be wise to be in frequent contact with Texas GM Jon Daniels this winter and especially at the Winter Meetings next month. The Mets are clearly building for a World Series run in 2015 and are just a piece or two away from putting them over the top. So why not go for it?