Ryan Theriot gets his jersey dirty during the World Series. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
When the list of players non-tendered contracts this winter became official earlier this month, Ryan Theriot's name did not jump out at me as someone the Mets should attempt to acquire. Rumor has it, however, that the Mets are among the teams considering Theriot for a spot on the roster. Such a rumor at this time of year may not mean anything at all, but it's just about the only thing that's been rumored about the Mets' roster since their flurry of activity at the winter meetings.
Theriot figured to make about $3.9 million in arbitration had the Cardinals tendered him a contract for next season, but they made the wise choice of non-tendering him instead. But there are some who think it's a great idea for the Mets. Jim Duquette, for example, loves that Theriot is "a gamer" who "plays the game the right way" and can play a bit at second, third, and short to give the Mets' starters some time off.
The thing is, though, that Theriot has been an awful hitter for the past two years. Between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, which he spent with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Cardinals, Theriot hit .270/.321/.325. His .646 OPS over that span pales in comparison to the low league averages at second base and shortstop, the two positions he's played.
As for fielding those positions, neither UZR nor DRS approve of his work at short over the past couple of years. At second base, he appears to be a passable or slightly above-average defender. The suggestion that he could spell David Wright occasionally at third base is without merit, as Theriot has played a whopping total of 55 innings at the position, all but one of which came in the 2007 season.
It also looks like Theriot might have lost a step this year. He's never been incredibly successful at stealing bases, but he was caught stealing in six of his ten attempts, a significant drop in attempted stolen bases and a dreadful rate of failure. It could be coincidence, but his .296 BABIP, a low number compared to his career norm, might give some more weight to a little bit of a slowdown as he heads into his age thirty-two season. At any rate, he's certainly not going to be getting any faster.
The Mets do have some spots open on their bench, and the middle infielders in the organization beyond Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and Justin Turner are probably all starting the year in the minors. If Murphy gets the everyday job at second base, as he should, Theriot would be something of a more costly Turner clone on the bench. Unless he's willing to sign for one year and $1 million or less, bringing him to Queens wouldn't make a ton of sense.