Sandy Alderson: With free-agent market thin, Mets may stay with Ruben Tejada at shortstop

Ruben Tejada looks on during a game against

Ruben Tejada looks on during a game against the Yankees. (May 27, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

This was supposed to be the offseason that Mets fans had circled, the one where their team finally would open their purse strings and go after some key additions.

On Tuesday, however, general manager Sandy Alderson acknowledged that the "robust" nature of the free-agent market could very well cause the Mets to change their plans. And the biggest change could be learning to live with Ruben Tejada at shortstop.

With the Cardinals having signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53-million contract, Alderson acknowledged on a conference call that the Mets may not have a whole lot of attractive free-agent options.

"You're right to point out that the free-agent market is thin," Alderson said during a conference call to officially announce the signing of outfielder Chris Young. "It was thin with Peralta. It is thinner without Peralta. There really aren't a lot of options in the free-agent market at this point.

"There are some trade possibilities. We've reached out to some clubs about shortstops. But I think what I've said before is that this is a process of improving the team. It's not about improving a position . . . So is it conceivable that Ruben Tejada or someone within the organization is playing shortstop for us on Opening Day? I think the short answer is yes."

Tejada hit .202 in 208 at-bats last season. He had a prolonged minor-league stint in Las Vegas before fracturing his right fibula on Sept. 18.

Perhaps the biggest sign that the Mets aren't going to be making a huge splash in free agency was the signing of Young to a one-year, $7.25-million deal. Young, 30, is coming off the worst season of his career. He hit .200 in 335 at-bats with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases last season, his first in Oakland after seven years with Arizona. His best season came in 2010 when he batted .257 with 27 home runs, 91 RBIs and 28 steals and made his only All-Star appearance.

"I'm the most motivated I've ever been," Young said about his mindset coming to New York.

Alderson said Young will compete with Juan Lagares for playing time in centerfield.

"This is an issue that came up with Chris, and I actually think there were other clubs that offered to play him in centerfield without condition," Alderson said. "In our case we talked about Juan, talked about his defensive ability, his need to be more productive offensively. We didn't rule out Chris playing centerfield, by any means. But I told him, and I think that the best player defensively -- assuming that there's productivity offensively -- will play centerfield."

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