Mets general Manager Sandy Alderson has gone on the record with the MLB Network, saying he believes that free agent shortstop (and possible second baseman, for the right price) Stephen Drew may wait wait until after June to sign with a team.
The latest chapter in the longest-running story of the offseason is perhaps its most intriguing/likely to actually lead somewhere. At the very least, Alderson's logic is sound, as he explains, "My own personal view is at this point, Stephen and his agent are reviewing the situation and perhaps looking at a strategy that prolongs this situation into the regular season or even into June. in light of Nelson Cruz's contract (one year, $8 million) that they're probably reconsidering where they are."
Like Cruz, Drew has been held back by a lack of need in their markets as well as draft pick compensation concerns for any team looking to pick them up. None of this would be happening, however, if Drew had agreed to the $14.1 million dollar qualifying offer given to him by the Boston Red Sox, for whom he played shortstop as part of their 2013 World Championship team.
Drew isn't alone in doing that, though. None of the 22 players offered qualifying offers during the stipulation's two-year existence have accepted them. As John Heyman put it during a report from Drew's personal spring training camp, "[the 22 players] all waited six years for free agency, and understandably weren't going to give that luxury up following productive seasons that almost always lead to multi-year deals." And given that Drew made $9.5 million last year, he can certainly to afford to sit out for the first few months of the season while waiting for the several lifetimes-long security that a long-term contract can provide.
That hasn't stopped his agent, Scott Boras from shopping him around to any team that even looks like they may be able to use 3.1 Wins Above Replacement, however. As such, it's getting increasingly hard to tell, especially in this specific game of high stakes major league player acquisition, what's a bluff, a strategic move and someone's honest opinion.
While Alderson believes that "it does appear that we would be a logical landing spot for someone like Stephen Drew", he also publicly expressed support for embattled Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the same conversation. Tejada -- who has been accused anonymously of coming into camp into less-than-ideal shape in spite of participating in a strenuous offseason workout program just a month earlier with fellow teammates -- appears, at the very least, on the hot seat.
"We were happy with what Ruben did in the offseason. We're hopeful that he'll show significant improvement on the field -- back to the levels he has demonstrated, so it's not an unrealistic hope. But we continue to look at our middle-infield situation. "
This was said by Alderson after he claimed reports regarding his conditioning were blown out of proportion. "Look, we have probably 30 front office and coaching staff down here. There's going to be a stray comment about players from time to time. That's unfortunately the nature of the media in New York. It's so pervasive that comments like that are going to be gleaned from time to time."
In a place so nice they named it twice, it should be no surprise doublespeak by baseball GMs is the talk of the town.