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The biggest question facing the Mets this offseason is whether or not Jose Reyes will be back in a Mets uniform. Prior to the start of this season, the All-Star shortstop made a peculiar switch to be represented by agent Scott Boras – who, as we all know, has a penchant for getting the biggest stars on the free agent market the biggest deals. Reyes figures to receive a lucrative long-term contract when he hits free agency this winter, despite the public comments Mets owner Fred Wilpon made back in March, in which he proclaimed Reyes is not worthy of “Carl Crawford money.” Reyes has only proven his owner to be wrong, as he answered that criticism by producing an MVP caliber season. Now in all likelihood, Reyes is going to receive a deal that mirrors the 7-year, $140 million-plus deal Crawford got. However, what team that is going to be remains to be seen.
Once the Reyes saga concludes, the Mets have a handful of other moves needing to be made. Pitching is first and foremost, as both the rotation and the bullpen need to be retooled significantly. Other positions such as the outfield, catcher and bench spots all can be upgraded upon.
It became evident this year that Murphy has a leg up (hopefully a healthy leg come February) on both Turner and Tejada. Murphy finally showed signs of being the hitter he was projected to be after he put up impressive numbers batting the majority of the season in – or at least near – the cleanup spot.
However, an ugly knee injury in August ended his season early, which created some speculation that his injury may have come from the notion that he remains unsteady and comfortable playing second-base. The Mets have enjoyed using Murphy’s versatility to their advantage by starting him all around the diamond. The Mets may very well choose to utilize him in the same role next year, but instead may opt to hand him a more solidified role, at second base, or perhaps at another position. Murphy is probably most comfortable defensively at third and first base, but with David Wright and Ike Davis manning those spots, Murphy’s only time at those positions will be to spell those two.
One thing the Mets may consider would be giving Murphy a chance to reclaim the job that was supposed to be his back in 2008 as the everyday left fielder. But Murphy would have to prove first that his defensive liabilities in the outfield are a thing of the past. If he can do that, he could push the incumbent Jason Bay to be traded (or benched). Murphy could also push Lucas Duda for the right field job, but Duda has looked very good since he took over in right following the departure of Carlos Beltran.
Either way, if this sort of scenario plays out and Murphy becomes the starter in the outfield, the Mets will likely decide between Tejada and Turner to start at second. Essentially the two have been auditioning and competing for a potential starting role since the All-Star break. Each has seen time at second but also at other infield positions. They have batted in different spots in the lineup, have been given opportunities to face both right-handed and left-handed pitchers, and have been given the chance to get familiar turning two with Reyes at short.
Tejada is younger and is still considered to be a highly ranked prospect within the Mets farm system. He has impressed mainly with solid glove work at both middle infield position, but has only just begun to show he can handle Major League pitching, after struggling at the dish through his first few stints in the majors.
Turner is more of a journeyman minor leaguer, and is a bit older, but was able to finally find his niche when given the opportunity by the Mets this April. He hasn’t looked back since as he’s continued to make an impression, predominantly with his hitting, but his fielding as well (at third and second). Both players could also be used as pieces in a trade to help bolster the pitching staff. And if Reyes isn’t back, it’s probably a safe assumption to believe Tejada will be first in line to succeed Reyes at short in a rebuilding tactic.
The Mets have plenty of moves to make to patch up some glaring holes, but if the right moves are made, they can quickly get back into contention in the NL East. But then again, it will all start and end with Reyes, and the Mets’ aspirations to keep him in Flushing.