The 2015 shortstop free agent market benefits Ruben Tejada

Ruben TejadaI can’t believe I’m saying this, but there is a good possibility that Ruben Tejada will be the Mets shortstop in 2015. There is a huge caveat with that statement, and that is the assumption that Wilmer Flores fails to take the position via his superior offensive capabilities, or Matt Reynolds down in Triple-A does not impress. Both could make a strong case either during the remainder of 2014 or in the spring of 2015. For now we will assume that Tejada, who never lost the shortstop position, still owns it moving forward.

If that situation continues, and internal options continue to allude Sandy Alderson, then free agency would be the next most likely target to improve a position that has produced for the season a .231 AVG (26th in MLB), .335 OBP (4th), and .291 SLG (29th). Tejada’s constant 8th spot in the batting order has helped that OBP number, but the average and slugging percentage are atrocious, and therefore a better bat should be found.

Who in the projected class of 2015 free agent shortstops could then fill that role for the Mets? If you want to go with the best available option, you would of course go with Hanley Ramirez. As he is currently on the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sport the highest payroll in baseball, it’s highly unlikely that the Mets will be entering a bidding war for his services. Ramirez will only be 31 next year, so a 6-8 year deal worth roughly $100-$180 is not out of the question. Alderson will pass.

What about the man with 162 home runs to his name, and a career .423 slugging percentage in J.J. Hardy? He will be coming off a down year by his standards, but could still net something in the area of $15 million per year for 3-5 years for his track record. Depending on the market, Alderson might take a peek, but again this will probably be too rich for his blood. After Hardy, the options start to dwindle quite quickly.

Jimmy Rollins could be available if his option is not garnered. He is still a very productive player at SS, as he currently has 13 home runs, 19 SB, a .393 SLG, and a fantastic K/BB ratio. The downside is that he will be 36 next year, and Rollins has been perhaps the epitomizing figure of this last decade of Mets suffering. Mets fans will not welcome him with open arms, and he could probably still command a 2-3 year deal from someone desperate enough. Hopefully that’s not us.

Jed Lowrie might hit free agency as Billy Beane is not used to paying to keep his own players around. Lowrie has been a very solid shortstop sporting a .442 SLG over the last two full seasons. This year his numbers are down, but he will only be 31 next spring. If he finishes 2014 strong, it will only be the second year he’s ever player more than 97 games in a major league season, so the long-term projectability on him is tough. He too is the most affordable option, but still could be out of the Mets price range, again depending on the market.

Then there is the enigma known as Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera will only be 29 next year, so that’s a plus. However, he strikes out roughly three times for every walk. His slugging has gone down consistently from .460 in 2011 to .392 currently this season. He can still hit home runs, but doesn’t get on base nearly enough. His service time each season has been going down, and overall his power probably won’t translate well to Citi Field’s spacious confines. He will probably be more affordable than the others, but that’s because everyone see’s the problems he has with his game. Probably the easiest get for Alderson, for bad reasons.

Even further down the list are guys like Mike Aviles, Stephen Drew and Raphael Furcal, but we hope it won’t come to that. All in all it looks like the two top-tier free agents in Ramirez and Hardy will command large enough contracts to keep the Mets quiet, and the rest might not be worth the Chris Young-style risk it would be to sign them. So while Alderson doesn’t want to trade young arms for position players at the moment as a deal is now “unlikely”, when it comes to improving at shortstop, it might be the only way out.

Of course, Flores or Reynolds may have something to say about that. Or there’s always this guy named Tejada.

9 comments for “The 2015 shortstop free agent market benefits Ruben Tejada

  1. NormE
    July 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Along with Flores and Reynolds, other internal suspects might include TJ Rivera and the rehabbing Wilfredo Tovar.

  2. July 29, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I just can’t see the Mets committing 15 million dollars on any SS. The Mets have 43 million dollars tied up in 3 players ( no Colon ). With Arbitration hearings for Duda, Gee, Parnell, Murphy, EY, Mejia and Tejada your payroll will probably reach 70 million. that leaves you 15 roster spots at minimum salary and you’re at 80 million just like this year. So if RT can continue to play consistent on both sides of the ball then the Mets have more pressing issues elsewhere.

  3. Name
    July 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

    With all the recent talk about Tulo, i think we should really consider HanRam assuming the Dodgers don’t want him (because they could easily outbid us).
    He’s only 1 year younger, is actually slighty more durable, and has put up numbers in non-offensive environments, and would only cost us 1 youngster (the 2015 1st/2nd round draftee) compared to the multiple prospects and players it would take to get Tulo.
    Tulo is guaranteed 118 over the next 6 years and while i’d like to do HanRam for 5/110, i would probably be prepared to up my ante to as much as 6/130.

    JJ Hardy doesn’t fit in with Sandy’s OBP approach, and his HR’s have up and disappeared this year, but he’s an elite defender. I’d be very hesitant to pay him $15 mil over 3 years and give up the draft pick but if the price went down i would be interested.

    My current pecking order is :
    HanRam, trade for Brad Miller, Hardy, Tejada, Tulo, Cabrera, Lowrie.

    • July 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Not only are Ramirez’ offensive numbers way down this year, but I’ve heard serious questions about his defense. Not sure I’d be willing to spend serious money for a shortstop who will have to move to third base.

      I’ve known Hardy as a power threat with low OBP, but I didn’t know he was a good defender. If baseball people determine his extra base hits are just hibernating and not extinct, he becomes one of my favorite candidates for 2015.

      • Chris F
        July 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        2x GG SS Mike.

  4. Chris F
    July 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    SS is becoming quite a thing, and the conservative nature of Alderson keeps a minimally resurgent Tejada at least in the conversation.

    I like HanRam, but is he NY bright lights material—and will he stay on the field? Tulo is too much a risk with age/injury/money. I certainly think the Mets and Cubs could be dance partners, whether its a Wheeler for Castro kind of deal, or Russell for deGrom (or…or…or…). I think thats the more likely outcome. Like says, Im afraid the FA class leaves something to be desired.

  5. Sean Flattery
    July 29, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I think the Mets will have their pick of the litter. I expect them to make a play at Lowrie,after Hardy asks for the moon and inevitably signs with Yankees or Dodgers.

    Tejada’s defense and batting eye have been terrific this yr, but his inability to drive the ball is concerning. No harm in upgrading.

  6. July 30, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Sean I think you mean the Mets will have the pick of the leftovers. If Hardy signs with the Yankees then the next best available option will sign with the Dodgers. If Drew continues to struggle you can probably add Boston to the mix. At what point do the Mets say no at signing an upgrade for 8-10 million dollars a year. i don’t think there will be enough money left in the budget for that kind of an investment.

  7. Metsense
    July 30, 2014 at 1:33 am

    If the Mets intend to compete for a playoff position in 2015 then they should upgrade the shortstop position. Lagares and Tejada at the bottom of the order does not generate enough offense. Lagares is an elite defender so he should remain in the lineup over Tejada.
    If the Mets chose to go the free agent route then they will be spending over $10M annually. Is there an established quality impact bat among this group? I think Hanley Ramirez may be that bat based on his recent 2013 and 2014 seasons along with 2007-2009 seasons. If you sign Ramirez then you would have to outbid some other teams and the cost that the author guessed at should not be a surprise. The rest of the Free agent group does not have the same offensive impact that Ramirez would. If the Mets decide to go the free agent route I would start with Ramirez.

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