There are now 18 days until Opening Day and I'm fairly certain most Mets fans can come up with at least 18 reasons why Ruben Tejada shouldn't be the team's starting shortstop when March 31st arrives. The good news is that the Mets still have a few different directions they can go if they decide (and they should) an upgrade is necessary.
The player we've heard about most in recent weeks is Nick Franklin. He is likely the odd man out up the middle in Seattle. However questions loom about his ability to play shortstop, with some saying he would be a defensive downgrade from Tejada. Still, he represents a quality offensive boost that would likely come at the cost of one of the organizations non-elite young arms. It still may be a steep price to pay for a player who likely won't be able to stick at the shortstop position long term. Could the Mets shift him to second, assuming Daniel Murphy becomes to expensive for the team's tastes? Sure, but its a complication they would probably like to avoid if possible.
The other trade option would be the eventual loser of Arizona's Didi Gregorius vs. Chris Owings competition. Each is believed to be a major league shortstop. Of the two, my guess would be that the Mets would prefer Owings, but they may not get to choose. If I were to lay a bet, it would be that this is the first avenue the Mets pursue in the coming weeks. Yes, it would be the most expensive route in terms of talent (assuming the package going back would include Kevin Plawecki and another young arm), but it also sets the Mets up with a sure shortstop option for years to come. This would be a significant trade with the Mets for the first time letting go of some of the talent they've spent years stock piling. However, if you're looking for a young, controllable, surefire shortstop..this is where they need to look.
Finally, as has remained the case all winter long, Stephen Drew remains available. The free agent shortstop reported turned down a one-year/$9.5 million dollar offer from the Mets, who appear set to avoid a multi-year deal with him at all costs. Still, he is the most established shortstop available and would instantly upgrade the team's defense up the middle and fortify the lineup. He may even be a lead off candidate. However, I still believe he is the front office's backup plan. If they are unable to work out a trade elsewhere, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mets cave and offer Drew the two or three year deal he covets. I just hope it doesn't come to that.
There is still time to address this need. Whether you think the Mets front office is genuinely interested in doing so is another argument for another time. I'm inclined to think they're more than open to the idea, having done little to squash the rumors that have linked them to all three parties. In any event, the trade options listed above fit inline with the organizations thinking over the past few years. Young, controllable talent who can remain in the fold for years to come. Unfortunately, those trades can't happen until decisions are made by the other teams involved. Nonetheless, Opening Day is coming..and so too are the answers to these questions.