While driving home from my girlfriend’s on Sunday night, I flipped on WFAN after I got tired of the shuffle button. The host, Adam the Bull I believe, was discussing the fact that Jose Reyes‘ contract will expire after this season. He mentioned that there is a relatively large segment of Mets fans who would not be sad if Reyes didn’t return to the cavernous confines of Citi Field. He continued to say that he thinks those fans might want to rethink that position, mentioning Reyes’ talent and, of course, the rather thin free agent pool for shortstops:
Jimmy Rollins isn’t on that list, but add him. Via the Cot’s Phillies page, his contract is up after this season as well. As we can see, there are not any shortstops who seem to represent an upgrade over Reyes for the Mets. The host also reiterated the point that shortstop is not exactly a deep position these days; there aren’t many shortstops better than Jose Reyes, he argued. I agree.
The last two seasons have not been all that kind to Reyes. He’s been injured and played in just 169 games between 2009-2010. That came after four straight years of playing at least 150 games and amassing at least 700 PAs each year. Despite that success and his age (he’ll be 28 in June), many Mets fans have soured on Reyes.
As Yankee fans, we just went through a similar process–a star shortstop who’s been the face of the franchise for a number of years was up for free agency. Obviously, there are differences between Reyes and Derek Jeter. Jeter was much more established than Reyes is now, was much older than Reyes is now, and was just coming off a much bigger contract than Reyes is now. Still, the situations have at least some similarities: they’re both shortstops, they’re both good hitters, and they’re both important in some way to the franchise of which each is a part.
There is, as we’ve established, going to be a segment of fans that will be happy to let Reyes walk. There was a small contingent of Yankee fans who may’ve said the same about Derek Jeter; granted, not many would’ve wanted Jeter to walk, but many–myself included–wanted to play hardballl with Jeter. I can guarantee that most Mets fans, even ones who rightly want Reyes back, will want to do that with Jose. The market may be thin, but Reyes had some health problems recently (duh) and his bat isn’t quite at Jeter’s level, but he’s still valuable simply because he plays an up-the-middle position and plays it relatively well.
Reyes’ age makes him likely to get a deal as long as Jeter’s, four years, but the aforementioned health issues may not net him any more than that. Jeter was overpaid, though some of that was for non-baseball related things: off field value, just simply being Derek Jeter, all that stuff. I’m not exactly sure what Reyes is going to be paid in his next contract. He’ll make $11M in 2011, so I imagine he’ll get more than that. I’ll also venture that the Mets will not sign Reyes during the exclusive negotiating period as they’ll want to see what the market for him will shape up to be. If I had to guess now, I think Reyes ends up signing for 4/48, but that might be a bit conservative, and is assuming he has a good season in 2011.
The ultimate destination is also the same: Jose Reyes, like Derek Jeter, will be playing in his only Major League home in 2012 and beyond. The internal options for the Mets do not represent any sort of upgrade over Reyes (assuming health and performance in 2011) and the external options–listed above–are not even good, let alone an upgrade over Reyes. Get used to him, New York. Reyes will likely be here to stay.
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