As the New York Mets approach the All-Star break, the team still has one clear need on their roster: Shortstop. Ruben Tejada doesn’t have what it takes to succeed at the major league level, Wilmer Flores doesn’t have the range and fielding ability necessary to play the position and there isn’t a major-league ready shortstop ready to make the team. Names like Troy Tulowitzki and Starlin Castro are linked to the Mets, but here is a player who can make a similar impact: Elvis Andrus.
It’s an interesting proposition for the Texas Rangers, because just a couple of years ago Andrus would have been untouchable. But the Rangers have fallen out of playoff contention this year, and they have a serious logjam in the middle infield. Jurickson Profar is still their top-ranked shortstop, and they also have Luis Sardinas tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A. So this seemingly untouchable piece appears to be gettable for the right price. If there is any team that can provide that price, it’s the Mets.
Outside of Yu Darvish, the Rangers’ pitching staff has been atrocious. The Mets have a number of major-league ready pitchers who can make an impact this year in Texas. The Mets could package a deal around Rafael Montero or Zack Wheeler. If they throw in Flores as a second or third base option, the Rangers would be crazy not to accept that deal.
So why does this deal make sense for the Mets? Andrus is an above-average defender. In his past six seasons with the Rangers, his fielding percentage is .971, and although his WAR is only 1.5 this season, his career average sits more around three. Offensively, you know what you’re going to get out of Andrus. His career average is .273, he’ll hit a couple home runs here and there and he will get on base more than a third of the time. He’s the ideal leadoff hitter, a position that is currently being filled by Curtis Granderson. He is a perfect fit to how Sandy Alderson wants to build this team.
Here’s the downside. The Rangers signed Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million contract extension which doesn’t take effect until next season. I think it’s worth the risk. Shortstop prospects don’t always pan out in the major leagues for one reason or another, and although the Mets have these prospects like Dilson Herrera and Gavin Cecchini in Double-A and Advanced-A ball, respectively, no one knows whether or not they will succeed. By taking a chance on Andrus, an established major league shortstop who is still just 25 years old, the Mets eliminate all of the unknowns that come with prospects.
Mets fans are just begging for a glimmer of hope and something to be excited about. It’s on Alderson now.