Free Agent Targets: Shortstops
The MLBPA compiled a full list of players who filed for free agency this offseason. Out of those, there are several possibilities that stood out to me as players I would consider signing if I were the GM of the Mets (assuming I had a moderate amount of money to spend). Mind you, I’m not saying the Mets should sign ALL of these players – that would be impossible. But this would be the pool of players from which I would choose.
We’ll break them down by position. In the last post, I looked at outfielders. In this post, I’ll take a look at…
The Mets have several holes to fill, but the position that has the most room for improvement is shortstop. Mets shortstops had a combined -0.1 WAR last year. They were bad in the field and even worse at the plate. 23 year-old Ruben Tejada took a big step back in his development this year, and it’s clear the Mets don’t have confidence in him to be the everyday shortstop in 2014.
There are two major free agents this offseason who would be a significant upgrade at short. Most every team who needs a shortstop has interest in them, including the Mets.
Stephen Drew, 31 – Drew is good fielder with a decent left-handed bat. Playing mostly in hitter-friendly parks, he averaged a .264/.329/.435 slash with 15 homers over a 162-game average. He truly showed off his glove this postseason, covered a lot of ground, and made sure-handed plays with strong, accurate throws. He hardly hit a lick until he homered in the clinching game of the World Series, but his defense was extremely valuable to the Red Sox en route their World Championship. Now Drew is ready to settle in somewhere with a long-term deal – perhaps 3 or 4 years in length. He’s expected to go for about $10 million per year.
Jhonny Peralta, 31 – Peralta is similar to Drew in many ways, particularly at the dish. He has a career .268/.330/.425 slash line and averages 18 home runs over 162 games. A right handed hitter, Peralta has displayed power while playing his home games in less hitter-friendly parks. He’s had 4 years in which he’s hit 20 homers or more, most recently in 2011 with the Tigers. This year, he was having an outstanding season (.303/.358/.457 and 11 HRs in 448 plate appearances), before he was suspended for the last 50 games of the season for his association with the Biogenesis clinic. Because of that black mark, his price may be discounted, as some teams will be reluctant to sign him. How much of his performance was enhanced by less-than-natural means? We don’t know, but the fact that he played so well after his name was publicly linked to Biogenesis is a good sign. His glove isn’t as highly regarded as Drew’s, but he did have a 3.5 UZR last year, and a UZR over 10 in 2011 and 2012.
Coming up next: Free agent first basemen