So, Stephen Drew is still available and the Mets still need a shortstop. Why haven’t the Mets moved on this?
Is Drew worth it?
The answer is yes for a one year deal, and no to any other deal.
The options for this year are very slim. It’s Drew or Ruben Tejada. Gavin Cecchini is too far away and hasn’t looked like a future star in his limited action in low A ball. No other free agent is interesting. All the trades for players are pie-in-the-sky deals for Jose Reyes or Troy Tulowitski that will never ever happen. There are a couple names that could be moved but I’ll hit them in another section because they’ll likely be more available in a different capacity than trade bait.
So Tejada versus Drew. In all seriousness, it’s a landslide victory for Drew. Drew amassed a 3.1 rWAR last season. In four years Tejada has amassed a career rWAR or 2.8. In 2012, in 501 plate appearances, he slashed .289/.333/.351, for a grand total of 2.0 rWAR (he had 1.9 the previous season in 125 less at bats). He posted an abysmal -0.9 rWAR last season in limited action.
Drew, however, has a career rWAR of 16.1 over eight seasons. Injuries hobbled him in previous seasons, but he topped 3 rWAR in 2010, posting a 4.0. You can expect more out of him over the next few years. Fangraphs has Drew figure to give a number as good as Tejada’s best season (1.9) next season.
But the numbers quickly deteriorate. However, since Tejada’s ceiling is likely a 2 WAR, it would make sense to bring in Drew.
But in 2015, it would no longer make sense.
The free agent crop figures to be so much better in the year we get Harvey back. According to MLB trade Rumors 2015 free agent list http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/02/2015-mlb-free-agents.html There are a few names that would be big steps up over even Drew. Of course there are caveats.
The two headline names are Hanley Ramirez and JJ Hardy. Both are scheduled to become free agents next season. Han Ram has doubled up Drew’s career WAR in one more season with a total of 32.8. Last season he turned in a 5.4 WAR. You need to do a similar year jump to Drew to find more starter quality seasons (2.7 in 2010) but his 2009 (7.3) and 2008 (6.8) seasons were all star or MVP quality seasons.
Hardy is not quite as good but still a great option. Sporting a career WAR of 23.3, Hardy has been better over recent years with 3.7 rWAR in 2013, 3.2 in 2012, and 4.3 in 2011. He also added a 2008 season of 4.8 as part of his 8-year long career.
Both are better in terms of projection and past production than Drew. All are around the same age, with Drew turning 32 in the 2015 season, Hardy turning 32 and Han Ram turning 31. However, both Ramirez and Hardy are candidates for extensions.
Here’s the rub. I think only one will make it free agency. Talks with Han Ram may not have started in earnest, but both sides are willing to work together. JJ Hardy has said he wants to return and Escobar has a friendly team option. Cabrera may be available next year, but that’s because he’s had the worst recent seasons.
However, I’d say that any of the four would be an upgrade over Drew. So my advice is not to focus short-term to put the best available guy in the job, but rather to look ahead and find the best possible fit.