I dont know if you have heard but Jose Reyes is eligible to file for free agency this year. As perhaps one of the most dynamic players to ever come through the Mets system and don the uniform, he represent a very interesting dilemma...especially in this day and age. There is one style of thought, that the Mets need to do whatever it takes to resign Reyes. The argument for this is undeniable, there is and probably never will be a player like Jose. He has his own crowd anthem that sounds as if it belongs in a jam packed soccer arena for goodness sakes. These folks continue to argue that by letting Reyes go, we will be setting ourselves back further than we are now. The most extreme of folk that fall into this line of thought believe we should go one step further if we cannot re-sign Reyes and just blow up the team ala a Marlins style fire sale. Naturally, there is another style of thought among Met fans that is open to the possibility of not re-signing Reyes but to capitalize on his elite status among the SS position to bring in pieces that can help improve the team overall. As any Met fan can tell you, the Mets do not have a single problem to point too but rather they have several. I have my opinions on this and ill be sharing them out loud in this post but to one point im sure we can all agree...we sure do not want to be Sandy Alderson right now.
Quite possibly, the only active player that can come close to being compared to Jose Reyes is Carl Crawford. Carl is 2 years older than Reyes, but his career numbers are more or less where Jose Reyes' are:Carl Crawford career numbers:GS: 1204R: 768H: 14872B: 2163B: 105HR: 104RBI: 593SB: 411BA: .295OBP: .336Jose Reyes career numbers:GS: 923R: 643H: 11392B: 1963B: 85HR: 75RBI: 384SB: 335BA: .286OBP: .335Now, these numbers are of course skewed in regard to Reyes' injuries the past few years but more or less they line up with Carl Crawfords career numbers. No doubt, Jose Reyes' agent Peter Greenburg will come to the table with these numbers. The reason being of course is his job to get his client the most money possible for his abilities and considering the person he is comparing to just signed a 7 years/$142 million dollar deal, you better believe he will not ask for a dime less(he needs the commission to buy a new mansion...#winning). The structure of Carl's deal is what we have come to expect this day and age, a back loaded contract where presumeably his primary asset will be in decline(speed):11:$14M, 12:$19.5M, 13:$20M, 14:$20.25M, 15:$20.5M, 16:$20.75M, 17:$21M
Whats even more dangerous than this, Reyes' agent could be asking for more. While Carl is very comparable to Jose Reyes', the reality is they dont play the same position. Carl is an outfielder, which is generally a position with alot of depth while Jose Reyes plays Shortstop, a position that generally lacks depth. Alot of teams have very mediocre shortstops and rely on Carl Crawford type numbers from other positions. Jose Reyes is no doubt in the top 5 short stops in Major League Baseball and that kind of premium will most definitely manifest itself in the negotiation table.
Now heres the fun part...playing GM. Heres the factors that I believe Sandy must juggle with when dealing with the Jose Reyes contract negotiation issue:
- Payroll: The Mets lose alot of salary space due to the contract expiration of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran. Assuming none of them get resigned or offered Arbitration(and accepted), the Mets have a $66 million dollar obligation to players. Alot of this are raises to the current contracts of Johan, Bay and Wright. This figure is not including the players that most likely will be offered arbitration. With the uncertainty of the Wilpons issue plus the total salary of the Mets when arbitration is all said and done, along with some stop gaps that will most likely be signed for depth, Sandy has alot of more questions than answers at this point. When your drawing 25k for a double header in New York...business is anything but usual.
- David Wright: David will also be a free agent in 2012. To me, he is a must sign. David is a career .305 hitter and has averaged over 100 RBI's and 25 home runs a year(2009 withstanding). These numbers are hard to find on a constant basis. David is an all around good player and will cost a pretty penny.
- Farm System: While I defer to Bryan for a better barometer on this, the Mets farm system is about middle of the pack. There isnt a Jayson Heyward or Mike Stanton type player in the farm system. Most of this im sure had to do with adhering to the slot preferences set by Bud but the real issue is the Mets may have to rely more and more on farm talent if the money issues are as bad as it is being reported. Selling Reyes as I did earlier will fetch a few nice prospect that can perhaps fill the Mets holes with better talent than we already have available at a cheaper rate.
My feelings on this are simple, if the Mets are pretty much out of the race come the trade deadline, Sandy must strongly consider trading Reyes. I love Reyes as much as the next Met fan but I will not let my emotions cloud the fact that this team could benefit hugely by what a Jose Reyes package could yield. This is of course assuming Sandy is a much better negotiator than his predecessor and Jose Reyes wants a contract similar or more expensive than Carl Crawford's. I know the constant argument is that this will go down wrong with the fan base due to his home grown player status and Jose is a very popular player. Both im sure are very true but ill tell you one thing that fans love more than Reyes...winning. If Sandy can find a good trade deal with pieces that can build a more competitive team top to bottom that will result in the loss of Jose Reyes, than im sure the fan base will be on board. Jose Reyes is a dynamic player and there will never be another one like him but his stats are replaceable, his position is replaceable. I dont know if such a package exists but im sure there are several teams that will be interested in Jose's talents. Mets are in the rare position of selector...a position that can take the Mets to a whole other level. The fall back option of course is offering arbitration and collecting a draft pick but as Kistics astutely pointed out, due to Reyes' injuries he may not be a Type A. If thats the case, the best the Mets can get is a first round pick in the supplemental round...which would suck pretty hard. The Mets have the 13, 44, 71 and 101 picks in the draft coming up. Can you imagine getting a package of top prospects plus good solid picks in the draft now that we will not pay slot...Mets may make a clean break from the pack in regards to its farm system in just 3 months. This is not a "I hate Jose" thing or anything of the sort. Im looking at the long term view of this team and given the circumstances that surround the Mets these days, as Obama would say "we have to win the future".
Ill make no bones about it, this may be one of the biggest decisions in Sandys tenure here. I do not expect everyone to agree with my assessment or my point of view. What I do expect is a healthy debate about what the Mets should do regarding one of its best players. The same debate that im sure rages on every day in the new Mets front office.