The New York Mets are on the prowl for an upgrade at shortstop this winter, but currently "feel they would have to overpay" to bring in free-agent infielder Stephen Drew, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
The Mets have been linked to Drew for a while, but it's always been with the caveat that they'd rather not spend much to get him if possible. David Lennon of Newsday reported Tuesday that there is "little chance" New York will offer the veteran shortstop a third year and added that the contract would have to be "steal" for the Mets to follow through.
The likelihood of Drew becoming a "steal" seems rather small. The 30-year-old is coming off of his best offensive season since 2010 and is tied to draft-pick compensation after declining Boston's one-year, $14 million qualifying offer. The Mets' top pick in the draft is protected, but they already gave up their second-round pick to sign Curtis Granderson, so adding Drew would cost them their next pick as well.
Drew has reportedly received a multi-year offers from a few clubs, per Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, but it's unclear from who. The 30-year-old has been tied to the Mets and the Red Sox this winter, but he hasn't really come up anywhere else, so those two could explain the "few" offers. If Rob Bradford of WEEI's Wednesday report that Boston hasn't made a formal offer to Drew is correct, though, then it'd have to be assumed that at least a third team is in play.
According to Drew's agent, Scott Boras, some of the proposals are contingent on the teams moving contracts off the books first, which Newsday's Lennon believes could be an indication that one of the clubs is indeed the Mets. New York has been trying to drop Ike Davis or Lucas Duda (primarily Davis) on other clubs for months now, but have had little luck so far. The pair is expected to make around $5 million in arbitration combined next season, with Davis bringing in the larger chunk (~$3.5M) of money.
Contrary to recent winters, the Mets have been pretty big players on the open market this offseason. The club has spent $87.25 million to bring in Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young, which likely leaves them with little wiggle room unless they can unload players like Davis, Duda or Daniel Murphy. The Mets have about $58 million tied up in guaranteed 2014 payroll -- which is a good $25 million short of their final 2013 mark, per BP -- but have 10 players headed for nice raises in arbitration, so they have about $20M less to work with than it seems.
The Red Sox are still believed to be major players for Drew, but their plan is to let his market develop before making a run at bringing him back to Boston. Xander Bogaerts is the shortstop of the future, but Boston could potentially keep him at third as an alternative to Will Middlebrooks until top prospect Garin Cecchini is big-league ready.