With tremendous depth in their starting rotation and bullpen, money coming off the books and the gaping hole both at leadoff and shortstop, could the Braves be a stealth pursuer of Jose Reyes?
After examining their contracts, there’s an absolute fit for a dynamic leadoff hitter to slide in neatly with young core the Braves have built, mostly through the farm system.
Reyes’s price—which not too long ago was going up-up-up-up—won’t be as prohibitive to a team like the Braves unless one team (the Nationals?) gets crazy and offers him the oft-mentioned “Carl Crawford money” that Mets owner Fred Wilpon said Reyes isn’t going to get.
What if the Mets make an offer of a guaranteed $110 million and that’s the limit of what’s out there? Then what if the Braves match it?
Would Reyes—knowing how things generally go for the Mets and that the team is far behind both the Braves and Phillies in terms of talent and stability—say to himself, “I’d rather go somewhere that I know I’m going to have a legitimate chance to win while I’m still in my prime”?
The Braves are shedding the salaries of Nate McLouth after this season and Derek Lowe after next season. Chipper Jones says he’s coming back in 2012 and will be paid $13 million. Dan Uggla and Brian McCann are signed; the young players Freddie Freeman, Jonny Venters, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson are all far from free agency. Current shortstop Alex Gonzalez is a free agent at the end of the year.
There’s an opening; it’s workable financially; and the player is available.
The Braves have upended the Mets one way or another since the two teams were placed in the same division in 1994. They’re the bane of the Mets existence. If the Braves want to, they can punch the Mets in the gut again by stealing away Reyes and improve themselves drastically in the process.