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No Stephen Drew in New York? J.P. Ricciardi says Mets happy with Ruben Tejada as shortstop

12.27.13 at 3:36 pm ET

Appearing on the ‘€˜Hot Stove Show’€™ with Rob Bradford and John McDonald Thursday night, Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi said his team is happy with heading into the 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop. (Click here to see Tejada’s stats.)

The Mets had been identified as a possible landing spot for free agent Stephen Drew, who remains unsigned. The Red Sox have been waiting for Drew to identify his market before coming in with a definitive offer to return.

“I think we are,” said Ricciardi when asked if the Mets were happy with heading into 2014 with the 24-year-old Tejada. ‘€œHe’€™s a young player. As Johnny can tell you, a lot of young players who get to play at the big league level early in their career, a lot of them don’€™t realize how hard it is to play every day. A lot of them don’€™t realize what it takes to play every day. I think in Ruben’€™s case, he got a lot early in his career and I think he’€™s starting to realize that he has to work a lot harder than he has in the past, and he has. To his credit, he really has. But as a young player, they get to the big leagues, some things happen for them and they forget how tough it is to stay there. I think he’€™s at that stage in his career. I think next year he’€™s going to be a better player than he was this previous year.”

Without getting into specifics regarding Drew, Ricciardi did say that the shortstop market appears thin right now, with most teams having settled on their starters. (See below for the projected starting shortstops for all the major league teams.)

“Sometimes there’€™s just supply and demand and I think right now there’€™s just not a lot of demand for shortstops,”€ the former Blue Jays general manager said. “€œIt’€™s funny how it works. Sometimes there’€™s a lot of opportunities for free agents, but sometimes the market is a little bit of a stonewall. I think in this case there’€™s a lot of shortstops that are already in place.”

Another obstacle for Drew remains the need for any team (other than the Red Sox) to surrender a draft pick if they sign the shortstop. Ricciardi, however, doesn’€™t buy into the notion that draft pick compensation should prevent a team from targeting a desired free agent. (The Mets gave up a second-round pick for signing Curtis Granderson earlier this offseason.)

“One of the things that is happening in baseball right now, that I scratch my head with it ‘€“ young players are so overvalued right now, and I think falls in with the draft picks, too. Listen, I get it. No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft,” Ricciardi said. “€œYou can’€™t build a team through the draft because they just don’€™t all work out. But you can supplement your system, and I get all that. But if you’€™re telling me I have a chance to get Curtis Granderson over a second round pick I think I’€™m going to take my chances with a proven major league player as opposed to maybe a high school or college kid that may or may not become Curtis Granderson.

‘€œHindsight is 20-20 and we can all go back and look at guys where they were drafted and what happened to them, but in the end, the major league players, the proven major league player, has a lot more value to me than the Double A kid, the Triple A kid or even the kid who is drafted. I wouldn’€™t hesitate to give up a draft pick. If I’€™m the Houston Astros or a club like that who is still building, I might not be as engaged to do it. But if I’€™m a club that is looking to get closer to being good, I might be more inclined to do it.’€

McDonald, who was filling for the show’€™s usual co-host, Alex Speier, also weighed in on his status. The 39-year-old, who spent the regular season’€™s final month with the Red Sox in ‘€™13 after being traded from Philadelphia, appears to be in a holding pattern while teams snatch up their primary building blocks.

“€œI’€™m just waiting for the right opportunity to come about,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s hard always when free agency starts especially for a player in my position, I’€™m 39 years-old, I’€™m a utility infielder so I’€™m the guy, the last piece of the puzzle. Organizations are putting together their teams, their rosters right now and they have to figure out who is going to be starting. At the end they go to the guys who are going to fill in and how is each remaining available free agent is going to fit into the system. That’€™s where guys like me fall in. ‘€¦ You don’€™t want to jump on something too early and lose out on something.”


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