With the spring training struggles of shortstop Ruben Tejada, who was already on thin ice after a terrible 2013 season, the New York Mets are still exploring their options at the position. This includes options both internally and externally, which is the right thing to do as Tejada has been unimpressive both offensively and defensively this spring.
But the Mets’ options are few and far between. Experimenting with Wilmer Flores at shortstop is fruitless; signing Stephen Drew remains unlikely; and a trade for Seattle Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin would not be worth it.
However, the Mets are also monitoring the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ shortstop competition between Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings. Arizona could choose to trade one of those players, and acquiring either Gregorius or Owings could be the Mets’ best bet at shortstop in 2014.
Both Gregorius and Owings have the defensive tools to handle shortstop to go along with plenty of promise offensively. Even if there are some rough patches, both would be better options than what Tejada showed last year and thus far in spring training. Tejada’s lack of confidence early in spring, despite being handed the starting job, is also reason for the Mets to look elsewhere for a shortstop.
Rumors indicate that to part with either Gregorius or Owings, the Diamondbacks would want catching prospect Kevin Plawecki and pitching prospect Rafael Montero from the Mets, which is not an unreasonable request. The Mets will be hesitant to part with Plawecki, who is their best catching prospect, because of the injury history Travis d’Arnaud, but because the Mets have d’Arnaud, Plawecki doesn’t project to be a starter for them which makes him a movable chip.
The Mets would also like to keep Montero, but with a deep crop of pitching prospects, the Mets can afford to trade a young pitcher like Montero without it making a huge impact on the strength of their farm system. If Plawecki and Montero is all it takes to get Gregorius or Owings from the Diamondbacks, the Mets should pull the trigger.
It’s likely to be at least two or three years until any of the Mets’ top shortstop prospects are ready for the big leagues, so trading for a young shortstop would have value for the Mets beyond 2014 since they wouldn’t have to use money on that position next offseason. With Tejada continuing to struggle and competing void of confidence, trading for one of Arizona’s shortstops could be the way to go.