The Major League Baseball hot stove was sizzling in December but has since cooled off, leaving New York Mets fans stuck with the same rumors every day that may or may not pan out.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the Mets were able to make big deals earlier this offseason by locking down players such as Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon. However, there are still rumors about what the Mets will do next. While the Mets have improved, they still need to make additional moves this offseason.
The rumors that have persisted through mid-January surround Stephen Drew and Ike Davis, as the team still needs to add a shortstop and fix their glut at first base.
Rumors always need to be taken with a grain of salt as they are often leaked by teams for negotiating purposes, and often deals come out of nowhere and take fans by surprise. Presented below is my take on the latest rumors surrounding Ike Davis and Stephen Drew as I try to see between the lines of the Mets’ negotiating strategy and make my predictions as to what will occur in both situations.
Stephen Drew Rumors
There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Stephen Drew this offseason, many of which have linked the shortstop to the Mets. I am selling the validity of most of these rumors and believe that Drew will return to the Boston Red Sox on a one- or two-year deal.
A number of Drew rumors have developed following the New Year, each one contradicting the previous one in some way. Peter Gammons noted following the New Year that a rival general manager of the Mets believes that New York is interested in Drew's services. Also, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post stated that the Mets are interested in the shortstop but are unwilling to go beyond a two-year deal.
In Kernan’s article he states that he believed both New York teams were potential destinations for Drew, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman debunked those rumors, as evidenced in the below tweet by Peter Gammons.
With the Yankees out of the picture, it seems that the two most serious teams on Drew are the Mets and the Red Sox. Ken Rosenthal reported last week that neither club was willing to offer more than a one-year deal, but he felt that New York was the best fit.
To further complicate things, Scott Boras claimed, via Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, he has had active talks with five or six teams regarding Drew, a market that is hard to imagine for the shortstop. Of all the new Drew rumors that have come about this offseason, I am selling this one the most as it is a clear ploy to get the Mets or Red Sox in a bidding war against imaginary teams and offer more years. It is a significant rumor, however, as it indicates the importance Boras and Drew are placing on getting a long-term contract.
Drew is an imperfect player but would be a drastic improvement for the Mets over current shortstop Ruben Tejada. Since his contract demands have slipped since the offseason began, the Mets have been further tied to the shortstop, but unless they are willing to go to three years (something I doubt the team would consider) I believe he will not be a Met, as I wrote earlier this month.
Despite the fact that the Red Sox currently have a top prospect who plays shortstop in Xander Bogaerts, Boston would love to bring Drew back.
Bogaerts is capable of playing shortstop, but the Red Sox cannot rely on their young third baseman Will Middlebrooks. He has impressive power, but as a 24-year-old in 2013 hit just .227 and reached base at a .271 clip.
Boston manager John Farrell indicated the team’s stance on their infield situation earlier in the offseason, stating, via NESN, “I’m hopeful [Drew] is back. It buys us some time, whether [Bogaerts] is the guy going forward next year at shortstop or if he’s at third base.”
Even if the Mets may be a better fit for Drew and end up offering a two-year deal to Boston’s one-year contract, Drew would most likely prefer to return to the defending World Series champions and try and test the free agent market next season and look for a longer offer rather than go to New York, a team that has been in flux over the past couple seasons.
A two-year deal may be even more unappealing to Drew than a one-year deal, as he clearly wants a long-term contract and adding an extra year just makes him a year older and less valuable on the free-agent market.
Many Mets fans may see Drew as an inevitable member of the 2014 squad, but if general manager Sandy Alderson sticks to his patient negotiating tactics and refuses to compromise on the length of a contract, a return to Boston is much more likely in my opinion.
While a trade for someone such as Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings is unlikely as it would cost the team pitching assets (a topic I discussed in December), I believe that it would be a preferable option for the Mets.
Unfortunately for the Mets and their fans, despite the fact that I don’t buy the notion that the Mets are happy with Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop, he will likely be the team’s Opening Day shortstop if they don’t offer Drew a three-year deal.
Ike Davis Rumors
Unlike the Stephen Drew rumors, which have been all over the place this offseason, it has been clear since early December that the Mets want to trade Lucas Duda or Ike Davis, with Andy Martino of the Daily News reporting that the team would prefer to deal Davis.
While fans have their preferences as to which of the first basemen they would like to keep, the Mets would be wise to trade one of the two and get some value in return. Having two first basemen unable to play any other position in the National League is pointless.
It is for this reason I am selling the rumors of the past week, that the team is no longer planning on dealing a first baseman.
This rumor was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Rubin, who wrote that the Mets expect Davis to be with the team in spring training.
One of the teams that the Mets have reportedly had discussions about Davis with is the Milwaukee Brewers. As recently as last week Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said the two teams were still in discussions about Davis but had yet to reach common ground, via Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Just two days later, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com Sandy Alderson said the team is no longer actively involved in trade discussions surrounding Davis.
While it is a possibility that both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will be with the Mets in spring training, it will only be because Alderson was unable to find a worthy offer this offseason. He has reportedly been demanding solid pitching prospects while in negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brewers, as evidenced in the tweets below.
Nick Kingham, Eduardo Rodriguez and Tyler Thornburg would all be solid returns for Ike Davis, but as of now teams have been unwilling to part with players of this caliber because of Davis’ poor 2013 performance.
I am selling the fact that the team would like to have Davis back in camp, as these latest statements by Alderson are clearly negotiating tactics as he attempts to net a solid return for the left-handed slugger. All the teams he is negotiating with are in need of a first baseman, and Sandy believes if he is patient that another team will jump on Davis’ power potential.
In the end, I believe a trade involving Davis will occur prior to or during the early days of spring training, likely with the Brewers. Davis is a perfect fit in Milwaukee so I believe they are the likeliest to relinquish a pitching prospect in the deal—potentially Tyler Thornburg.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.