It was so bad that the front office is exploring external options for the position this winter. Jorge Castillo of the Star Ledger reported New York reached out to Rafael Furcal, but Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta are their two most likely free-agent targets.
Which one is the better option?
Fresh off a World Series victory, the Boston Red Sox extended a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Stephen Drew. If any team outside of Boston signs him, that team will surrender its highest unprotected pick in the 2014 MLB draft.
Drew struggled to a .111 batting average in the 2013 postseason after posting a .253/.333/.443 line 124 regular-season games. There were questions as to why manager John Farrell continued inserting him in the lineup, but his strong defense helped solidify one of the most crucial positions on the field.
Outside of a -7.0 UZR rating in 2012 during limited time with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics, Drew has put together an above average UZR since 2010. In 1,093.1 innings played with Boston this past season, Drew posted a 5.3 UZR as its shortstop.
Getting a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox certainly increases his value this winter among teams in need of a shortstop. He earned $9.5 million in 2013, and will be looking for a considerable raise over the life of his next contract. He's entering his age-31 season, and rumored to be in the market for a contract worth three or four years.
Peralta is similar in age to Drew (entering his age-32 season in 2014), but that's where the similarities end between these two. Unlike Drew, Peralta did not receive a qualifying offer from the Detroit Tigers. This will allow teams to freely pursue him this winter without surrendering a top draft pick.
He hit .303/.358/.457 in 107 games played for Detroit this season, but served a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. At the time of his ban, he was enjoying a stellar season, and looking forward to lucrative contract offers in the winter. His connection to PEDs will hurt his overall value, but teams in need of a shortstop with some home run power will still give his agent a call.
Peralta has enjoyed nine seasons of double-digit home runs, eclipsing the 20-homer mark on four occasions. His potential for power will undoubtedly make him an attractive free-agent option. The suspension he served will force him to take a lower salary and a short-term contract in an effort to rebuild his reputation. That's something he'd rather not do, but there will be concern over whether he can duplicate his recent success without PEDs.
Who is the better fit for the Mets?
Given Sandy Alderson's recent track record in the free-agent market, my choice would be Peralta. Although he has the PED stigma, he's the cheaper option of the above two, and that's been the route Alderson has taken since he took over.
The Mets general manager claims this winter will be different. Bad contracts are coming off the books, giving New York financial flexibility they haven't had in recent years. We could see the organization spend as much as $40 million this winter to improve next year's roster -- or so they say.
Knowing its ability to spend this offseason, I'd prefer New York to pursue and sign Stephen Drew. With regard to the general details of a contract, a three-year, $39 million offer would be something I'm comfortable seeing him earn if he dons the Orange and Blue.
Drew won't be an offensive stalwart in the lineup, but he will be productive. If he posts near his career norms (.264/.329/.435) and hits 10-15 home runs with 50-75 RBIs, it would be a huge upgrade over Ruben Tejada.
If the corner outfield spots and first base are occupied with more productive offensive players, it would allow the shortstop to be a complementary piece, not a main contributor. Judging by what Drew has done throughout his career, he wouldn't be a liability with the bat, and an asset with his glove.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, Mets Minors, and Rising Apple. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.
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