The New York Mets have made no secret of the fact that they are looking to upgrade at the shortstop position. After Ruben Tejada had a major regression in 2013, the Mets looked towards the free agent market in hopes of an upgrade. The Mets were interested in Jhonny Peralta before the St. Louis Cardinals stunned baseball and gave him a four year, 53 million dollar deal. That move took the best shortstop candidate off the market, and with Stephen Drew likely to return to the Boston Red Sox the Mets' options to improve at short are diminishing.
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports that Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated that the team is far more likely to trade for a shortstop if they upgrade. Alderson told reporters that two to three teams are willing to deal shortstops, but conceded that it is more likely that Tejada would claim the job than it was two months ago. The Mets have reportedly talked with the Arizona Diamondbacks about shortstops, but talks have made little progress. Texas has Elvis Andrus on the trade block, but he has a massive contract and the Rangers also are seeking a haul for their young shortstop. The Chicago White Sox are also dangling the enigmatic Alexei Ramirez, but they haven't received an offer they like yet.
Unless the Mets surprise everyone and pull off a deal or sign Drew, it looks as if shortstop will be Tejada's job to lose in 2014. Tejada deserves credit for looking to improve following his miserable 2013 season. Tejada is one of several players who is attending a team run fitness camp to get into better shape, and it is important to realize that he is only one season removed from a strong 2012 campaign where he hit .280.
Tejada is only 24 years old, so there is a chance he can turn things around and recapture his 2012 form. Tejada is a strong defender at his best, and if he can hit line drives instead of worrying about power his batting average should come back up. The major concern for Tejada last season was his defense, which was very subpar. Tejada committed eight errors in 55 games last season after only committing 12 in the entire 2012 season. Tejada also looked noticeably slower after showing up out of shape, so hopefully this fitness camp will help improve his range.
If the Mets commit to Tejada in 2014, they will need to bring in a veteran backup to complement him. The Mets only have Wilfredo Tovar on their 40 man roster after non-tendering Omar Quintanilla and Justin Turner last month. The Mets have reached out to the likes of Cesar Izturis so far, and it looks as if someone of that quality could be added later in the winter. There is still a lot of time left before spring training, but the longer the Mets go without making a move is a great sign for Tejada's job security.
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