Around 10:00 pm est on Sunday night, reality set in for the New York Mets and their fans that All Star SS Jose Reyes was indeed leaving. As we all know by now, Reyes has signed a six-year, $106 million contract with an option for a seventh year with the Miami Marlins. As my friend Justin and fellow Queens native said, "At least their won't be lines at Shake Shack next year."
Be it as it may, the Mets need to move on and now the question really is, "Who replaces Reyes in New York?" Despite landing on the disabled list numerous times over the years and sometimes rubbing fans the wrong way, Reyes was a premier player for the Mets (brought about $116 million in value to the Mets over the past six years, according to FanGraphs) and whomever eventually replaces Reyes is going to have big shoes to fill.
Let's look at the candidates...
Ruben Tejada: The most logical choice to replace Reyes, the 22-year-old hit .284/.360/.335 in 376 plate appearances in 2011. He looks poised to be the Mets' shortstop in 2012, but don't put that in ink just yet.
In an interview with WFAN's Mike Francesa this afternoon, Mets' GM Sandy Alderson said Tejada being the Mets' SS in 2011 would be the "Likely outcome," but he also didn't 100 percent commit to him. He mentioned that Tejada could move to second if the opportunity presented itself to add a better option at short.
To be honest, I don't see a better option than Tejada at this point.
Jack Wilson: Wilson is a long ways away from the 4.7 WAR shortstop he was back in 2004. At this point in his career, he's a no-hit, average glove player. He hit .243/.274/.285 in 232 PA's with the Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves last season.
Even if the Mets do anoint Tejada as the starting SS in 2012, I could certainly see the Mets signing Wilson as a backup. If I was a betting man, I would bet this scenario plays out.
Ronny Cedeno: If the Mets are already going to go the no-hit shortstop route, Cedeno might be a better option than Wilson. Cedeno hit .249/.297/.339 with two HR's in 454 PA's with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011. However, Cedeno was pretty slick in the field as his 5.9 UZR indicates.
Cedeno is still only 29, so he represents a younger and quite possibly a more cost effective option for the Mets.
Cesar Izturis: Izturis was limited to just 18 games in 2011 because of a myriad of injuries, but the 31-year-old is healthy now and is drawing plenty of interest, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Izturis can't hit a lick, but the guy can field a baseball. Since 2007, Izturis' 27.3 UZR ranks sixth amongst all Major League shortstops.
My guess is the Mets won't get into a bidding war over Izturis and if other teams have shown interest, they'll pass.
Jed Lowrie: I don't see the Mets trading for a shortstop, but if they wanted to go that route, Jed Lowrie might be a good option. With Marco Scutaro signed for another season and Jose Iglesias on his way, there is no starting spot available for Lowrie in Boston.
Lowrie might have the most potential in terms of hitting out of this group (career .348 wOBA), but Lowrie doesn't project as a starting shortstop in the Major Leagues unless he can stay healthy and make some improvements defensively. He just doesn't have the range and is more of a third baseman than anything else.
As I mentioned above, if I am a recreational betting man, I would lay wood on Tejada be given a real shot at winning the starting shortstop job in spring training with Wilson as insurance.
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