By: Joe Messineo

Weighing the Mets Shortstop Trade Options


The New York Mets are the defending National League champions, but that doesn’t mean that they can afford to sit still this offseason. The Mets’ World Series defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Royals laid bare their issues with defense, and the Mets need to be active this offseason as they seek upgrades at key positions. One of those positions is shortstop, where the Mets have too often had to choose between Ruben Tejada’s acceptable defense and Wilmer Flores’ occasionally strong batting. Neither player has looked like a permanent solution lately, so expect the Mets to check in with various options at shortstop this offseason. Who will they be calling? Here are the options the Mets will consider this offseason.

Trade With the Braves

The Mets would have loved to get SS Andrelton Simmons from the Braves. Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the game, and he is exactly the kind of player that the Mets need in order to shore up their defense. Unfortunately, the Braves asked for a truckload in return from the Mets, the Mets refused, and the Braves swapped Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels instead.

However, the Braves did get another shortstop in return: Erick Aybar. Aybar is 31 and probably doesn’t fit into the Braves’ rebuilding plans, so they are likely to turn around and ship Aybar to his third home this offseason. But can New York be his destination? It’s hard to say, because teams are often reluctant to make trades within the division. Sandy Alderson will certainly give the Atlanta Braves a call, though. Aybar is a better player than the two free agents on this list.

Trade With the Cubs

The Cubs have a surplus of infielders, and the one they’re most likely to move is SS Starlin Castro. Castro is a pretty appealing player, but he has some question marks. He was benched last season by manager Joe Maddon, but then he played himself back into the lineup. Castro is owed $38 million over the next four years, but his upside is probably worth that sum. That said, the Mets might balk at the Cubs’ asking price in trade. No offers have been reported yet, but it seems likely that the Cubs will ask for Zack Wheeler, who will return mid-summer from Tommy John surgery. The Mets have been reluctant to part with their young pitchers. Further complicating the deal is the fact that the Cubs and Mets are both on similar trajectories – the teams have to expect a few postseason meetings following these trades. It’s not quite like trading with a division rival, but its close.

Free Agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera might be a stop-gap option, but it’s not clear that he’s a fit for the Mets. He’s an offense-first shortstop with a bit of upside, which is kind of what Wilmer Flores is already. And Cabrera is 30, so he’s not a guy that’s going to change much and surprise people. Expect the Mets to kick the tires of Cabrera and get involved if the price is right. If Cabrera is looking for a lot of cash or years, forget it.

Free Agent SS Ian Desmond

Desmond is a solid option who could be cost-effective, though it’s not yet clear what the market for him looks like. Desmond has been pretty solid for the Nationals, and he obviously knows the Mets division, having been a part of it for years now. Desmond’s production slipped last season – he’s 30, so it’s hard to say for sure that 2015 was merely a down year and not the beginning of a decline. The Mets are certainly willing to see Desmond as a short-term, low-cost option, but whether Desmond and his agent see him that way is a different question altogether.

Keep Wilmer Flores and/or Ruben Tejada

Can the Mets make their shortstop situation work with their internal options? Maybe. The Mets want improved defense and improved hitting, but they could theoretically make those upgrades at other positions and then make do with either Flores or Tejada at short. For instance, acquiring Ben Zobrist would fill second base will a reliable defender and contact hitter. That would arguably give the Mets the breathing room they need to test out Tejada and Flores a little more. Neither player is going to become a star, but if one can become passable, that will be enough – provided the Mets improve elsewhere. Whichever route is most cost-effective, the Mets will take it.

About Joe Messineo

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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