Published on February 10th, 2014 | by Josh Chapdelaine0
The New York Mets Don’t Need Stephen Drew
The New York Mets have been connected with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew as early as November when MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes predicted he would end up signing with the club. The lack of demand for the free agent shortstop combined with his desire for a multi-year commitment have slowed the 30-year-old’s market.
Drew is in one of the more bizarre free agent predicaments in quite some time. While one could look back to 2013 and draw comparisons to Michael Bourn’s lingering free agency, the two are simply in different places. Drew is fresh off a rebound season in which he posted excellent defensive metrics (10.9 Def) to compliment above-average offense for a shortstop (.253/.333/.443). Bourn was fresh off a great season, but simply didn’t have many teams with the need for a light-hitting center fielder.
Metsblog’s Matt Cerrone earlier today examined the reasons why Drew is perhaps having such difficulty finding a match this winter:
At the same time, Drew would also cost a third-round draft pick, plus limit draft spending, while possibly throwing off Ruben Tejada‘s development. Tejada was worth roughly one to two extra wins during each 2011 and 2012. So, for significantly less money and commitment, and with more upside, he could be better than Drew, assuming Tejada is in shape, focused and ready to step up in camp.
Cerrone hits the hammer on the nail in his analysis of draft pick compensation when referring to Drew, but it doesn’t entirely explain why big market teams have shied away.
The free agent shortstop hasn’t found a multi-year commitment simply because his past results haven’t indicated future guaranteed success. Drew has averaged 96 games annually since 2011 and hasn’t come close to matching the level of production he achieved from 2006-2010 (His sophomore 2007 campaign being the outlier). When coupled with multi-year demands from a shortstop on the wrong side of his prime, anything more than a two-year commitment coming off of only an above-average year seems like a risk not worth taking.
Cerrone further explains the market for Drew in his passage and questions his demands:
In the end, the market is telling me Drew just isn’t that good. It’s not like every team has a good shortstop. There are a plenty of teams for whom Drew would be an upgrade. Demand at his position is high. And yet, it seems no one is willing to give him what he wants. And, if no one else is going to do it, why should the Mets?
Cerrone is once again spot-on about demand at the position. To put into perspective how weak the position was in 2013, Omar Quintanilla’s .306 OBP was league average for a shortstop with greater than 300 plate appearances.
Yet there’s no guarantee about Drew moving forward. Ruben Tejada is no guarantee coming off of his worst statistical year, but the club is making a wise move in choosing Tejada over Drew in 2014. The 24-year-old Tejada is under club control through 2018, comes without draft pick compensation, and boasts a higher offensive ceiling in every category other than slugging percentage. If the two were closer in age, a more competent argument could be made in favor of Drew’s defense, but shortstops rarely see defensive improvements after the age of 30.
Even if Drew would represent a marginal upgrade in 2014, the monetary and draft resources could better be allocated elsewhere. It’s not to say Drew is a bad player -In fact, this is more of an issue with the collective bargaining agreement- but under these stipulations, Tejada remains the clear choice to start with the club on Opening Day come March 31st.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron