Live update from Citi Field:
Sandy Alderson said this afternoon, that two or three teams are potential trade partners for a shortstop, but it’s becoming more and more likely every day that the position may go to Ruben Tejada.
We’ve improved the team at other positions,” Alderson explained. “So, giving Ruben a chance to reestablish himself as an everyday player isn’t such a bad thing.”
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Recently, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Texas Rangers would consider dealing Elvis Andrus. As we all remember, the Rangers sparked the offseason by swapping Ian Kinsler with former Tiger Prince Fielder so they no longer have an surplus of infielders to deal for other needs. However, if what Ken Rosenthal says is true, I believe the Mets should seriously consider attempting to seduce Jon Daniels with an offer.
There are a few reasons why Elvis Andrus should be in the Mets crosshairs this offseason. One is that they might not have to give up a king’s ransom to acquire him. In April of this year, Andrus signed an 8 year extension worth $118 million through 2022, which averages to almost $15 million per year. So if the Mets were to offer a few major league pieces that could help Texas like, say, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, along with one or two near major league ready starting pitchers such as Rafael Montero and/or Jacob DeGrom, the Mets may intrigue Daniels enough to pull the trigger.
Daniel Murphy could slot into second base for Texas, allowing Jurickson Profar to maximize his value at SS, where he is more than capable of playing. The hitter friendly environment would most likely increase Murph’s power potential to at least 15-20 homers. That combined with a .285 average, 20-25 steals and average defense would be extremely productive for a usually offensively lacking position. Lucas Duda does not have much luster but it is possible he could DH, eliminating his shortcomings in the field and making him appear slightly more attractive. If you complement these two with Rafael Montero and/or Jacob DeGrom who could come up mid-season for Texas and help them out of the back of the rotation or the bullpen during a playoff push, a deal could possibly be made.
Not only would this deal probably free up a few million from the payroll due to Andrus only making around $5 million next season, but it would give the Mets the leadoff shortstop they have desperately needed since they lost Jose Reyes to free agency. It may not seem like Andrus is much of a threat offensively with a .274 career average, a .339 career OBP, and virtually no power but with a healthy ground ball rate well above league average, a consistent BABIP every year (.316 averaged over 5 years), and a career line drive rate of 20%, a spike in both BA and OBP is not out of the question, especially since he’s only 25 years old with room to improve. When Andrus gets on base, he’s proved he can swipe bags with 42 SB in 2013 and an average of 35 SB per season since his debut which somewhat makes up for his complete absence of power.
It gets better. I have not even mentioned his defense yet. Andrus has incredible range and instincts which helped him achieve a 2.0 defensive WAR last year. Defense is an aspect of Andrus’ game that will remain fairly constant throughout his career so even if his offensive output does not improve, there is still that to bank on. Andrus has also displayed durability over the course of his career, averaging around 151 games played per season since his debut which is attractive in its own right. Even Reyes had trouble staying on the field at times.
Andrus is not a perfect player by any means but he could be an offensive catalyst at the top of the order that the Mets have been looking for. Even if he does not improve whatsoever from last season, his WAR was still 4.3 compared to the miserable -0.1 WAR the Mets got last year out of the position. The Mets do have a couple promising shortstop prospects a few years away (i.e. Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario) but reliable shortstops are few and far between these days so his lengthy and expensive contract is worth a risk. Even if Cecchini is the next Marco Scutaro and Amed Rosario is the next Troy Tulowitzki, a $15 million dollar contract for a defensively gifted shortstop with at least average offensive production is certainly not untradeable. The bottom line is, if I’m Sandy Alderson, I have to at least be thinking about giving Jon Daniels a call and checking in.