Shortstop far and away tops Sandy Alderson's holiday wish list, but the position's scarcity makes finding one a tough task for the Mets general manager. During an interview on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio, via Mike Vorkunov, he discussed the dearth of appealing choices.
"Right now there's nothing that's really overwhelming or a slam dunk in terms of improvement even if we can acquire, say, a younger player."
The Mets quickly addressed their other primary concern by signing Michael Cuddyer at the dawn of free agency. Other than some added bullpen depth, shortstop stands out as the team's remaining glaring need.
Alderson has scoured the market for an answer, but nobody feels right for the role, as he expanded.
"It's not hard to stay disciplined when the options just haven't presented themselves. Believe me, we've canvassed the possibilities over the last two years. I think we know enough at this point to be able to make a decision quickly if an opportunity arises.
"This is kind of like buying a house, you look at 50 houses and then you come upon one and you know it's the right one and you make the deal. I think all the tire kicking that we've done over the last couple of years will help us make a quick decision."
If he can't locate a solution elsewhere, the Mets will give Wilmer Flores a crack at handling the gig come Opening Day. Renowned for his bat in the minors but feared as a defensive liability, the 23-year-old ironically recorded a minuscule .564 OPS while handling shortstop well, notching a 4.0 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in limited major league playing time in 2014.
In reality, a perfect scenario will probably never materialize. That doesn't mean a serviceable option isn't available. With one year remaining on his contract, Alexei Ramirez presents a tantalizing short-term fix. Brad Miller, Stephen Drew, and Jed Lowrie are intriguing buy-low gambles who can each hold his own on the field.
The closest possible jackpot would be ripping Xander Bogaerts from the Boston Red Sox, but's a long-shot despite the Mets' interest and catalog of pitching prospects to offer. He and Starlin Castro are either unavailable or outside New York's price range.
No shortstop is perfect. Even Tulo Tulowitzki, the position's clear gold standard, is an injury-prone benefactor of Coors Field. Eventually Alderson will have to pick the best of the imperfect options available.