General manager Sandy Alderson will head to San Diego for next week's winter meetings hoping to solidify his roster for the upcoming season. High on his to-do list is the Mets' need for a shortstop to handle what has become a black hole for the club ever since Jose Reyes left following the 2011 season. Although Alderson has professed faith in Wilmer Flores should he be the shortstop on opening day, it's clear that the Mets would love to import a known commodity to handle a position of such importance. One of the names Alderson will likely check in on is Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers.
Unbelievably, the 26-year-old Andrus will be entering his seventh major league campaign in 2015 but he'll be doing so coming off the worst season of his career. A 4.2 and 4.0 fWAR player in 2011 and 2012, Andrus barely produced at replacement level figures in 2014, finishing with a 1.3 fWAR. The Venezuela native hit just .263/.314/.333 last year with a 79 wRC+, numbers that pale in comparison to his combined 2011-2012 seasons when he batted .283/.348/.370. Although his line drive and strikeout rates compared favorably to his first five seasons, Andrus walked just 46 times in 685 plate appearances in 2014, a 6.7 percent walk rate that represented the lowest mark of his career.
Power has never been a part of his game (career ISO of .073) so a move to Citi Field would have negligible impact for a player who has never hit more than six home runs in a season. What Andrus would bring to the Mets is a dose of speed, something completely foreign to the club now that they've non-tendered Eric Young Jr. Although he has been successful a pedestrian 74.4 percent of the time for his career, the three-time All-Star has exceeded 20 stolen bases in each of his six seasons, including four years in which he swiped 30 or more bags.
Unfortunately for Andrus, his downward trends weren't limited to his offense. His defense at short was deemed slightly below average in 2014 according to UZR (-4.2) and his DRS of -13 left him among the lower half of major league shortstops. A model of durability, Andrus has appeared in at least 145 games every year for Texas, something no Mets shortstop has come close to doing since Reyes appeared in 159 games in 2008.
Unlike Brad Miller of the Seattle Mariners, another potential shortstop for Alderson to target, Andrus's contract makes a deal to New York highly unlikely. Following his strong 2012 campaign, Andrus was rewarded with an eight-year, $120 million contract that doesn't officially start until 2015. There is very little reason to believe the Mets would be willing to absorb such a hefty pact at this point, despite their desire for an upgrade.
Andrus would certainly be a known commodity but is he worth the hefty cost in both future salary and talent? Fangraphs.com pegs Andrus for an fWAR of 2.9 in 2015, better than the 1.9 they expect for Flores but a deal with Texas would surely include one of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, or Zack Wheeler as the centerpiece, something Alderson has shown no inclination to do thus far.
There is little doubt the addition of Andrus would improve the shortstop position and add another key piece to New York's lineup, but at what point does the cost outweigh the product? A gamble for a $120 million player who seems to be stagnating may be far too much of a risk for New York to take.