Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Drew would be a formidable acquisition for the Mets in 2014.If I’m making an educated guess on which player from the 2013 World Series rosters was most likely to be a New York Met in 2014, my pick would be Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew.
Drew is a free agent this offseason and fits a number of the Mets' parameters: He fills a position of significant need, he has skillsets the Mets like and he will come at an affordable price.
Desperately seeking shortstop
With all due respect to the fill-in capabilities of Omar Quintanilla, the Mets' production at shortstop was awful in 2013.
Mets shortstops hit .215 with a .285 on-base percentage and a .276 slugging percentage. The only team with a worse OPS than the Mets .561 from shortstop was the Royals (.550) and they at least got good defense at the position.
Ruben Tejada and Quintanilla combined to be worth -1.7 wins above replacement.
Drew had the second best season of his career in 2013, WAR-wise, worth 3.1.
If you thought the Mets made a big jump going from Lucas Duda to Eric Young in left field (going from a negative-WAR player to one with a value between 0 and 1), the bump from Tejada/Quintanilla to Drew will be enormous.
That is, so long as Drew stays healthy. He has played 86, 79 and 124 games the past three seasons.
What Drew would bring
Drew hit .253 with a .333 on-base percentage and a .443 slugging percentage in 2013, admittedly bumped a bit by Fenway Park (where he had an .859 OPS, compared to .687 on the road). Regardless, he’s an offensive upgrade, capable of 50 extra-base hits, which he has done four times, and 50 walks, which he’s done three times.
Drew’s weakness is that he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching well at all. But the Mets' issues aren’t just against lefties, but against righties, too (and teams face right-handers about 70 percent of the time).
Drew has slugged .460 or better against righties in four of the five seasons in which he played at least 120 games.
On the defensive side, Drew is probably best described as average at this point in his career (UZR rated him slightly above average, defensive runs saved rated him slightly below average, in 2013). He would be a defensive upgrade at shortstop for a team that ranked 20th in UZR and 24th in defensive runs saved there last season.
The Mets have money to spend this offseason, though probably not break-the-bank dollars. They probably can’t compete for the first-tier free agents and have already shared that their plan will probably be similar to that of the Red Sox -- find mid-level players with reasonable risk for short-term dollars.
Drew made $9.5 million last season and produced at a level that made that deal a success. Fangraphs.com runs an offseason project in which they attempt to “crowd source” what players will get in the free-agent market.
Drew was pegged at two years for $20 million or three for $30 million.
A few years ago, that would have sounded ridiculous. But in a cash-heavy market, it’s a legitimate price.
And it’s one that makes a lot of sense for the Mets to pay.