Ruben Tejada, Mets shortstop and heir apparent to former All-Star Jose Reyes, has -- for the second consecutive season -- shown up to camp out of shape, and the Mets are not happy about it, according to a report by the New York Post's Kevin Kernan filed on Monday.
This, despite sending him to a conditioning "boot camp" at The University of Michigan along with outfielder Lucas Duda and other teammates just last month. It doesn't look like it worked. According to the sources willing to talk about it in Mets camp, "[Tejada] looks pretty much the same,'' though, Kernan says most members of the organization appear unwilling to talk about the situation publicly.
This, along with the .202 he hit during his injury-and-ineptitude riddled campaign that saw him play only 57 games at the major league level last season, has left the door open for New York to sign free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew, coming off a .253/.333/.443 season as a member of the World Champion Boston Red Sox, has reportedly requested a 14 million dollar a year contract. While a talented player, it appears the market for his services is significantly smaller than he and his superagent Scott Boras were expecting.
Drew, who has been offered a $9.5-million dollar deal by the Mets, has found himself on the outside looking since the winter meetings for a number of reasons: age (he's 30), need (according to Fangraphs, there isn't much a market for slightly below-average hitting shortstops with slightly above average gloves right now) and, perhaps most importantly, draft pick compensation (of which Drew himself is extremely critical.)
The Mets have made it very clear that while they are interested in Drew, they won't break the bank for him. General manager Sandy Alderson even directly referenced Drew in a conversation with Mike Francesca, saying, "it's going to have to be on terms that are mutually agreeable. Are we going to sign a free agent between now and spring training for $15 million a year? I don't think so."
The Mets may not have a choice, however, if Tejada continues his decline from last year, which followed two better-than-serviceable seasons where the 24-year-old hit in the .280s as a replacement for Reyes. Of course, being a baseball player, the young shortstop isn't concerned about the rumblings regarding his conditioning or his potential replacements, especially following his stint in Michigan with his teammates. He told the Post, ""Right now I feel really good,'' Tejada said. "I think the best decision I could make was to go there and prepare myself for the rest of my career.''
Whether the rest of that career is with the Mets appears entirely up to him, and his ability to meet the most minimal requirements of being a professional athlete: being in shape and performing on the field.