Although the New York Mets‘ brass has seemingly done a 180 on their commitment to Ruben Tejada as the starting shortstop, a trade rumor that had made the rounds earlier this offseason seems to have been rekindled. With the signing of Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year contract, the Seattle Mariners now have a glut of capable middle infielders on their roster and the Mets could certainly match up given their wealth of young pitching. Both Nick Franklin and Brad Miller would seem to be good candidates to solve the Mets’ shortstop quandary, but each player has his own warts. Although Franklin is the more highly touted prospect, there has been a loud chorus of scouts and evaluators who don’t believe he can handle shortstop full time and would profile better as a second baseman. Miller is the more accomplished defender and is more of a true shortstop, but his bat doesn’t possess the same potential as Franklin’s.
Last season, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson claimed that Tejada was not considered a part of the Mets’ core, and Alderson also didn’t mince any words when referring to Tejada’s suspect conditioning. Tejada spent most of the offseason working at Mets’ conditioning camp in Michigan, but depending on whom you believe, it didn’t work wonders as the Mets had hoped. Although he’s the incumbent right now, with no good options in the organization behind him, the Mets have to be wary of giving Tejada any inclination that this is his job to lose as much of last year’s struggles were thought to be based on complacency. Even with Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar in camp, no one actually believes that either player is capable of unseating Tejada barring catastrophic failure. To that end, this rumor could be nothing more than a motivational ploy.
Of course, whether or not the Mets want to motivate Tejada, they should seriously consider making a play for Franklin or Miller, assuming they haven’t already. Ideally, with the questions about Franklin’s ability to play shortstop, Miller would probably be the Mets’ first choice, but one would think the Mariners are well aware of this as well. In either scenario, the Mets would likely have to part with one of their more highly touted arms, someone like top prospect Rafael Montero. Although this is just complete speculation, capable “up the middle” players usually fetch a nice return in trades given their overall importance to the team and the amount of ground they have to cover.
While free agent Stephen Drew is still seemingly a viable option for the Mets, there are no indications that Drew and his agent, Scott Boras, are willing to come down on his contract demands anytime soon which could force Alderson’s hand. Unless something obvious presents itself soon, the Mets are likely to take a long look at Tejada during spring training and make the decision as to whether or not they need to go in a different direction thereafter. One way or another, the Mets have to make sure they adequately address this position as having another year of a black hole at shortstop is not something they can afford with their slim margin for error.