Would You Trade for Dee Gordon?

Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers

According to reports, the Los Angeles Dodgers are shopping shortstop Dee Gordon at the winter meetings in Nashville.

If you were Mets GM, would you make a deal for him?

Once a highly touted prospect, Gordon has had a somewhat disjointed and difficult start to his big-league career. He hit .304 and stole 24 bases in 56 games in 2011, but followed it up with a .228 batting average and 32 stolen bases in 87 games in a 2012 season abbreviated by a torn thumb. Gordon’s step backward seems to have motivated the Dodgers to consider moving Hanley Ramirez to his preferred position at shortstop, meaning there’s no place on the diamond for Gordon. LA could send Gordon back to AAA, but it’s unlikely he’ll gain any value playing in the minors. As it is, they’ll be selling Gordon low; maybe they saw what the Braves did with Tommy Hanson and believe it makes sense to cut their losses now, before Gordon’s value reaches zero.

So why would the Mets make a play for Gordon? Because they would be buying low, and the kid — at only 25 — still has the potential for upside.

Gordon’s top tool is his blinding speed; his second plus tool is arm strength. However, he hasn’t yet polished his game around those two tools — he gets caught stealing far too often, he’s not very good at bunting for a hit, and many of his errors result from overthrowing. As a hitter, his performance has been mixed; he’s shown the ability to draw a walk in the minors, but he’s never shown consistent discipline and patience at the plate. He’s an enthusiastic, high-energy guy who works hard and hustles. In short, he’s raw — what he needs is playing time and perhaps a change in scenery.

Why would the Mets trade for Gordon when they already have a young shortstop in Ruben Tejada? Because the Mets have absolutely no athleticism in the middle infield at any level of the organization, and championship teams get that way because they have athletes “up the middle.” Further, it may be possible to slide Gordon to second base — who knows, it might solve his throwing issues. Gordon’s athleticism actually gets in the way of his performance, because he leans on it too much. He has great range and strong arm but is often too aggressive, and seems to never “quit” on a play — and that’s where the errors come from, because he will rush. My thought is that at second base, he’ll have more time, and might learn to slow down. I believe that his raw skills could could make him as good defensively as Brandon Phillips at second base.

Offensively, he shows a quick bat — quick enough to hit .280 – .300+ at the big league level. However, whether he’ll ever tame that innate aggressiveness in order to hit as high as .250 is questionable. Again, the raw skill is there, but it needs to be polished. With his speed, he should be able to bunt for 10-15 hits a year. Bunting for a hit requires only one god-given skill — blazing speed, which Gordon already has. Beyond speed, it requires technique developed through hard work. Considering the Mets have one of the great all-time bunters on their staff in Wally Backman, I can see Gordon becoming a deadly drag bunter after one spring training.

I know what you’re thinking — at 25, Gordon is too old to be so raw. Sure, the clock is ticking, but consider this: Gordon didn’t play baseball until his senior year of high school, so he’ll be a late bloomer. That’s why I think he still has upside — he’s still developing, and likely will improve his game all-around with more reps. His athleticism is off the charts; his main issue other than getting reps is taming his aggressiveness.

Of course, it all depends on what the Dodgers are asking in return for Gordon. Certainly, I wouldn’t consider Jonathon Niese or any of the Mets’ top trading chips. However, I might offer LA a bullpen arm — maybe Bobby Parnell, if the Dodgers threw in a promising A or AA pitcher. Maybe Elvin Ramirez straight up would do the trick? Or, perhaps the Dodgers would consider swapping Gordon for Jordany Valdespin, who would give LA a versatile utilityman?

What’s your thought? Should the Mets try to improve their athleticism up the middle by acquiring Gordon? Why or why not?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Quinn December 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm
    What would happen to murphy?
  2. Dan B December 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm
    Murphy becomes our utilityman/backup plan at second/tradebait. Would you bat Gordon lead off? Who is the 2013 leadoff hitter for the Mets? Hats off to Joe for actual suggesting a move the Mets could do.
  3. Mike B December 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm
    I think the Mets need to get away from guys like this, we get one of these guys on our roster and we get blinded by a good week or month. I remember we were putting Valdespin in the OF to be our starting center fielder.

    Is there a chance gordon Becomes a good MLB player? I guess so, and if they want to shake things up and trade valdespin or something thats fine, its equalivent to me buying a scratch off in hopes of not having to go to work anymore.

  4. Joe December 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm
    ” Maybe Elvin Ramirez straight up would do the trick?”

    Trick or treat. For whom? You decide.

  5. DaveSchneck December 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm
    Not a bad idea. Mets desperately need a leadoff hitter. Tejada is too slow and Valdespin has no plate discipline or position. Gordon for Valdy would be interesting. I’d prefer someone more established at leadoff, but it doesn’t look like the Mets can get that done – Span has been traded, the price for Fowler is too high, Mets won’t pay the FAs that can leadoff.
  6. Glenn December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm
    No way. I live in Los Angeles so I hear about their players and one of the things the Dodgers don’t like is his work ethic. When you have blinding speed and little power and you reach the majors without knowing how to bunt, it’s simply because you didn’t put the time in. The man has one skill and hasn’t put the time in to take full advantage of that one skill. Why would you want a guy like that? One thing I like about these Mets is that day in, day out, they try. They may not be the most talented guys but they bust their ass. A all speed/ no power SS who doesn’t learn how to bunt is not what the Mets need
    • Joe Janish December 3, 2012 at 7:34 pm
      What??? I’m VERY curious where you’re getting this info regarding Dee Gordon’s work ethic. All reports I’ve seen and heard are that his work ethic is similar to his athleticism — off the charts. (And I have pretty strong sources within the LA organization; see my resume.)

      I believe Gordon has simply needed to focus on every other part of his game, since he’s only been playing organized baseball for about six years. The sport is difficult enough when one has been playing since little league.

      • Joe Janish December 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm
        BTW if you don’t believe me, see what his college coach has to say, a few comments below.
  7. derek December 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm
    if what glenn says about his work ethic is true we gotta stay away!!! i agree, that this team at least plays hard win or lose…dont want lazy guys that dont have a good work ethic

    even thou bay was awful… he at least busted his butt off and stayed engaged with the team.

  8. Mike B December 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm
    In other news Pagan signed 4 years with the Giants,

    “Re-signing Pagan was among the top priorities of Giants general manager Brian Sabean this winter,”

    I am not going to lie and say I was mad when the Mets made the trade with Giants but I certianly dont feel to good about it now.

  9. Jason Beck December 4, 2012 at 9:02 am
    I can’t disagree any more on Dee Gordon’s work ethic. I have known him since HS and coached him in his brief stint in college. His work ethic and dedication is second to none. He plays the game hard and has FUN doing it. The fans love him and he is a crowd favorite which the Mets can use right now. He always plays with a smile and can do some AMAZING things at short. He just needs to harness all that energy and enthusiasm. He would be a great addition to the Mets and fill 2 holes at leadoff and shortstop. This is the type of player the Mets need as well as MLB. It’s not just about business and contracts, he loves the game.
    • Joe Janish December 4, 2012 at 9:39 am
      Jason, thanks so much for stepping up and confirming what I’ve heard from several other sources.

      I agree with you 100%. Mets fans can say what they want about the “joy” of watching clods like Dan Murphy play hard, but for me, the truly electric excitement left Flushing when Jose Reyes moved on to Miami.

      Gordon is no Reyes, but he has a similar enthusiasm and flair for flash that could bring back some of the electricity. And with a little luck, he might also turn out to be a viable everyday player.

      • Joe December 4, 2012 at 11:28 am
        I like both “clods” like Murphy and “truly electric” types like Reyes & agree that we need more of the latter. We need that or characters in general.

        Torres was supposed to bring some of that (or at least fun) but that was sort of a bust. So, on that front, this guy sounds intriguing. I honestly never heard of the guy until you mentioned him but he does sound like the type the team can use.

  10. Waags December 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm
    I would not trade Parnell for this guy, nor would I move Dickey as the rumors went. Parnell still could profile as a closer or atleast a late inning guy. Subtract him from an already weak bullpen and I’d shudder if I was Niese, Gee or any other starter. Gordon is listed third on the depth chart for Dodgers. Is his thumb totally healed? Why shop a 25-year-old phenom and keep Luis Cruz to play either third or short? I think Dickey offers veteran leadership and fiery competiviness to a young staff. Add Santana into that mix and I think the Mets could duplicate QS which led the majors by the way at 101 last year. The Mets starting rotation is a strength. Fix the bullpen and stop trying to dismantle one of the only bright spots of last year.
    Now would I take a flyer on Gordon? Yes but not at the price the Dodgers are asking. They have already devalued their own player. If Im buying Im buying much lower.
    • Joe Janish December 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm
      A deal like this would be for the future, not the now.

      Holding on to Parnell — who is now 28 years old — is a non-move for the now, not the future.

      The only reason the Mets hold on to Parnell is if they think he’ll raise his value a bit more before July, and perhaps get more in return in a trade.

      Gordon is being shopped by LA because the Dodgers are in “win-now” mode and mortgaging the future. Gordon’s probably not ready to be a championship shortstop in 2013 — he’s too raw, unpolished, and prone to mistakes. They also know his stock is unlikely to rise if he plays most of ’13 in the PCL. If Gordon is to realize his potential, he needs to play on a team going nowhere in ’13 — a team like the Mets.

      The Mets starting rotation is a strength in comparison to the rest of the club, but it’s only about average — probably a tick below average — in comparison to teams that have a shot at the playoffs in 2013.