Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets left last week’s winter meetings still searching for an upgrade at shortstop. MetsBlog's Matthew Cerone reports if the “Amazins” do acquire one, it will likely be via trade instead of free agency.
If the Mets aren’t able to find a shortstop they’re comfortable playing every day, they should give Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti a call about Dee Gordon.
Non-tendering Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla prior to the winter meetings took away from New York’s middle infield depth. Outside of Ruben Tejada, Wilfredo Tovar is next on the depth chart at shortstop. Tovar made his MLB debut last September after spending all season with Double-A Binghamton.
The Mets have a new-look outfield heading into 2014 with Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Chris Young. Those acquisitions have pushed Eric Young Jr. out of his current position in left field. He is the lone true leadoff hitter for manager Terry Collins to use in his lineup. One would imagine Daniel Murphy’s recent availability in a trade is an attempt to open up second base—Young’s natural position.
It’s unclear whether or not Alderson can create a market to trade Murphy. If he’s manning second base on Opening Day, Collins needs more versatility on his roster.
Dee Gordon could provide Collins with another option in the leadoff spot, supply middle infield depth and motivate Tejada with some competition in spring training.
After making his MLB debut on June 6, 2011 for the Dodgers, Gordon flashed his potential in 56 games played and 233 plate appearances. He hit .304/.325/.362 with 11 RBI, 34 runs scored and 24 stolen bases.
That performance earned him the starting shortstop job heading into the 2012 season. It didn’t go as planned—the speedster posted a disappointing .228/.280./281 line with 17 RBI, 38 runs scored and 32 stolen bases in 87 games. Los Angeles displayed their lack of faith in Gordon by acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins, and then they converted him back to shortstop from third base.
Ramirez assumed the full-time position for the Dodgers in 2013, leaving Gordon as a reserve player at the age of 25. He appeared in just 38 games at the big-league level but suited up for 92 more with Triple-A Albuquerque.
Despite hitting .234 in limited playing time with Los Angeles, his on-base percentage shot back up to .314. His big-league walk rate rose from 6.1 percent in 2012 to 9.4 percent last season. His time in the minors showed more of the same—he hit .297/.385/.390 in Triple-A. He swiped 49 bases and increased his walk rate to 11.8 percent, nearly doubling his 2012 mark.
Acquiring Dee Gordon from the Dodgers would not be (and should not be) Alderson’s first choice. It’s still early enough in the offseason to continue searching for proven upgrades.
If the trade market dries up and Alderson is left with Ruben Tejada projected as his starting shortstop, however, Gordon could at least provide some depth up the middle.
He’s seemingly fallen out of favor with Los Angeles and could be expendable, as an extension for Ramirez won’t be coming soon, but the two sides are open to it, according to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes (h/t Bill Baer of NBC Sports).
It’s too early to write off Gordon in the big leagues—his sophomore season in 2012 was a dud, but his 2013 shows there are still signs of life in the former top prospect. If Eric Young doesn't play every day, it would be nice for Collins to have him and Gordon at his disposal to create a rotation with one of them leading off most of the time.
At the very least, Gordon could be a bench player providing what Turner and Quintanilla could, but with much better speed. At his best, a change of scenery could bring out the potential the league saw in 2011. He could be acquired for a mid-level prospect, and he must stay on Alderson’s radar in case other options fall through.
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