Rich Coutinho reports that The New York Mets have discussed the possibility of trading for Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman. The Mets may be in the market for a shortstop as the result of Jose Reyes's emerging thyroid condition, which may leave him out several weeks for the beginning of the season.
The Mets, who despite high expectations have finished out of the playoffs for the past three seasons, are running out of patience in their newfound losing ways. There are those who believe the club feels they could not afford the slow start that would come as a result of not having an experienced everyday shortstop to start the season, this alone would be motivation enough for Mets General Manager Omar Minaya to make a move.
With the emergence of shortstop prospect Ian Desmond, the one major deterrent that has kept the Nationals from moving the 31-year-old shortstop has been his $8 million contract. With Guzman's speed and range quickly vanishing, few teams even with a need at shortstop would be willing to spend that kind of money for a quick fix, especially in today's market. One of the handful that might? The New York Mets.
The Mets, one of the richer teams in the league, would potentially eat his inflated salary and place him at shortstop until Reyes is able to compete again. At that point it would appear that the Mets would attempt to platoon Guzman and Luis Castillo. Castillo, 34, is the Mets version of Cristian Guzman as a former slap-hitting speedster that was given a contract which no longer fits him. For the Mets however, having another contributor who can split time with Castillo once Reyes returns may be one more benefit of making this deal.
In the meantime, the thought of a Guzman, Castillo middle infield is comical to anyone who views baseball through a sabermetric lens. While Castillo has grown to be a more selective batter, at one point in each of their careers they were both considered to be two of the least patient hitters in the league. What's worse, at this point in their careers they are both poor at fielding their respective positions. Castillo posted a -10.4 UZR at second base in 2009, and Guzman posted a -2.3. Defensively, this has potential to be one of the worst middle-infield's in the majors.
For the Nationals it would provide a great deal of relief. The club is currently stuck with three options up the middle, each providing their own talents and abilities. The movement of Guzman would clear room for Desmond who would have the chance to succeed (or fail) at the major league level, and Kennedy would be able to play everyday.
With everything said, we've heard this song before. Every year there seems to be a story about a team strongly considering Guzman, only to taper off into the hot stove night. Will this finally be the farewell of the Nationals first major addition? Stay tuned.