NEW YORK—It was a perfect storm, melding the arrival of a new front office coming from stops around the league with a need for a player—a second baseman, specifically.
So when the Mets' turn came in the Rule 5 draft, the final step in the first Winter Meetings for this new crew of executives, they delved into their own experience and grabbed Brad Emaus.
Emaus was originally drafted by the regime of general manager J.P. Ricciardi in Toronto in 2007. Now, with Ricciardi serving as a special assistant to Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Ricciardi—as well as scouts Roy Smith and Jim D'Aloia—recommended Emaus.
"In our situation at second base we have got to try to address it with a bunch of guys," Ricciardi said. "He's another guy who we can bring in to compete. He can definitely play second base.
"He's had a great minor league career, has great plate discipline and a good understanding of the strike zone. He's got some power, although he's more of a gap-to-gap hitter"
Emaus comes to the Mets for $50,000, and if he doesn't fit they can offer him back to the Blue Jays for half that price. But he's got a shot to stick. The 24-year-old is competing with Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner—and perhaps 21-year-old Ruben Tejada, who the Mets would prefer to play every day at shortstop at Triple-A Buffalo.
"We brought him to major league camp in 2009 as a non-roster player, and he played very well," Ricciardi said of Emaus. "Then he had a bad year in the minors. It might have been too much pressure. But his minor league numbers were good this year."
Emaus hit .290/397/.476 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 15 attempts last year while splitting time between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Las Vegas. Over the winter, he was playing for Toros del Este in the Dominican League, where he had a .263 average and four homers in 114 at-bats.
While he split time between second and third base last year, in 2009 he was exclusively a second baseman.
"He can play second or third," Ricciardi said. "He knows how to turn a double play. He's more of an offensive player than defensive, but I don't think he's a zero defensively."
• Righthander Pedro Beato was also selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 draft, five years after they drafted him out of junior college. They didn't sign him at that time and he went to the Orioles a year later.
• Lefty Mike O'Connor gave up his first earned run in 10 outings for Licey in the Dominican League and had a 1.98 ERA in 19 appearances out of the bullpen.