Even though we're in the dead of winter, spring training is not really that far away. The New York Mets have solidified their roster but still can fortify it even further by signing another free agent.
His name is Stephen Drew.
The 30-year-old shortstop is still sitting out there in the free-agent market, and the Mets would be smart to sign him as spring training draws nearer.
Here are three reasons why:
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
1. Drew would be a significant offensive upgrade at SS
No one is going to confuse Drew with Cal Ripken Jr. offensively, but he would be a huge upgrade offensively over weak-hitting shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Drew smacked 13 home runs in 124 games for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox last year and added 67 RBI as well, matching his career high. His slugging percentage was a solid .443.
In contrast, Tejada's career-high RBI total for any one season was 36 in 2011. His lifetime slugging percentage is a feeble .319.
Sure, Drew has been hampered by injuries throughout his career but is still in his prime years. He would make the lower part of New York's batting order much more potent and would slot in nicely in the No. 7 hole. Remember, he also belted 29 doubles and eight triples in 2013.
Drew has belted as many as 21 home runs in a season (with Arizona in 2008) and would give the Mets a much-needed injection of extra base power at the shortstop position.
2. Drew is an excellent fielding shortstop
The numbers don't lie.
Drew ranked second in the American League last season in fielding percentage (.984). In addition, he finished third in the junior circuit in Range Factor/Game as SS (4.10). Drew committed just eight errors in 2013.
While Tejada is a fine fielding shortstop as well, the Mets would not be downgrading at that critical defensive position if they ink Drew to a new contract.
In fact, they'll probably be better.
Drew also turns the double play very nicely and would partner well with second baseman Daniel Murphy, who showed some improvement defensively last season.
Mets hurlers would be very confident having Drew playing behind them at shortstop.
That's a big factor psychologically.
3. Signing Drew would show Mets fans that the team is serious about winning
The Mets finally seem to be headed in the right direction.
It's about time.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has signed free agents Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon during the offseason. Signing Drew would not only help New York offensively and defensively but would let Mets fans know that they are serious about contending for a National League playoff berth in 2014.
When was the last time Mets fans had that feeling?
Alderson should sign Drew to a two-year, $22 million pact and reap the rewards. Now is the time to do it.
It's time to stay aggressive and upgrade the shortstop position.
Now all Drew has to do is stay healthy.
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