The Jose Reyes Free Agency Profile

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Name: Jose Reyes


Position: Shortstop.

Vital Statistics: Age-28; Height-6’1″; Weight-200; signed by the New York Mets as an undrafted free agent in 1999.

Agent: Peter Greenberg.

Might he return to the Mets? Yes.

Teams that could use and pay him: New York Mets; Philadelphia Phillies; Washington Nationals; Atlanta Braves; Florida Marlins; St. Louis Cardinals; Milwaukee Brewers; Cincinnati Reds; Chicago Cubs; San Francisco Giants; Los Angeles Dodgers; Boston Red Sox; Detroit Tigers; Kansas City Royals; Minnesota Twins; Los Angeles Angels; Seattle Mariners.

Positives:

Reyes is unstoppable when he’s healthy. He can hit for average and some power; he provides extra base hits and loads of triples; he can steal 70-80 bases; is a superior defensive shortstop with a cannon for an arm; and he’s a switch-hitter.

His personality is infectious; he excites people by his mere presence; he’s intelligent, well-spoken and charming.

As he showed with his display during the first half of the season, when Reyes is sufficiently motivated, he’s one of the most dynamic players in baseball. Any club will be better with him at the top of their lineup and in the field. His pricetag won’t be as heavy now as it looked like it was going to be in July; while it sounds strange that a team could get an MVP candidate and Gold Glover at a discount even if they’re paying as much as $130 million, that will be the case if he’s physically sound.

Negatives:

His frequent hamstring injuries are a big concern. He doesn’t walk. And once his speed begins to decline, it’s reasonable to wonder whether a team will be paying $20 million annually for a singles and doubles hitter who’ll hit 10 homers a year and is losing several steps defensively.

It must be understood that there’s always the potential for a pulled or torn hamstring that will keep him out for months or possibly an entire season.

Reality:

Amid all the criticisms doled out to the Mets for failing to lock Reyes up before this; the rumors that they’re reluctant to keep him at whatever cost or are planning a face-saving offer without intending it to succeed; and the fear of the unknown without him, it’s selectively ignored that the Mets have made the mistake of overpaying to sign, trade for and/or keep players due to fan reaction and desperation.

Does it really matter why the Mets let him leave if they choose to do so?

If it’s financially-related or a cold-blooded analysis that he’s not worth it, isn’t that why they hired Sandy Alderson as GM in the first place—because they’re running the team like a business and not to cater to the fans desires if they’re going to hinder their rebuilding attempts?

References to the Red Sox and Yankees as teams who don’t make such calculations are ridiculous.

It was the Red Sox who traded Nomar Garciaparra and allowed Pedro Martinez and Jason Bay to leave as free agents because, in order, they didn’t like Nomar’s attitude and contractual demands; Pedro’s arm had been judged to have only a year or two left before a full breakdown; and they didn’t want to pay Bay for the full 4-5 years it would’ve taken to keep him.

They were right about the first two; Bay would’ve been fine had he stayed in Boston.

The Yankees let both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui walk after winning a World Series they wouldn’t have won without them; GM Brian Cashman didn’t want to re-sign Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada and he was right in both cases.

This concept that the Mets are at fault for Reyes’s hamstring problems is as stupid as the Cashman suggestion that the Mets were at fault for his decision to give Pedro Feliciano an $8 million package for what looks like will be nothing. The Yankees “superior” medical staff okayed the deal for Feliciano; the Red Sox misdiagnosed Clay Buchholz‘s back injury this season and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s broken ribs last season.

Teams make medical mistakes—it’s not only the Mets.

You can’t build a team similar to the Red Sox from 2003-2008 without enduring some pain of these brutal, unpopular choices that need to be made. To think that a front office as smart as the one led by Alderson doesn’t have a contingency plan in place to replace Reyes with several lower cost acquisitions or via trade is foolish.

Prior Mets regimes were reactionary and thin-skinned; they allowed the fans and agenda-driven media people (or fans who think they’re the media) to interfere and affect what would’ve been better for the club in the long term. They doled generous severance packages to declining and borderline useless veterans Al Leiter and John Franco and essentially let those two have a significant say in the construction of the club—it was known as the Art Howe era.

That’s also how they wound up with Martinez; Mo Vaughn; Jeromy Burnitz; Johan Santana; Bay; Francisco Rodriguez; J.J. Putz and numerous others.

Do they want to repeat the past mistakes and spend capriciously to keep critics quiet? Or do they want to have a plan, work within a budget and build a sustainable foundation?

Whether the budget is based on lawsuits, financial collapses or creating a streamlined, profitable club is irrelevant—this is where they are and they have to react accordingly.

Say what you want about Alderson—that he’s desperate for credit; that he’s got a massive ego; that he intentionally creates factions in his front office to maintain a power base loyal to him—he’s not concerned about what people say when he makes a decision; it will be rational one way or the other.

If Reyes leaves, so be it.

What he’ll want: 7-years, $150 million.

What he’ll get: From a club other than the Mets, 6-years guaranteed with a mutual option based on games played and health for a 7th year at a total of $140 million if he reaches all incentives.

From the Mets, 5-years guaranteed at $105 million with easily reachable options for two more years based on games played and health to push it to $140 million.

It’s up to him whether money and guaranteed dollars are more important than his supposed desire to stay with the Mets. Players have shunned the chance at extra money in recent years to go to a preferred locale, so it’s not assured that he’s following every penny elsewhere.

Teams that might give it to him: Tigers, Phillies, Nationals, Braves, Cardinals, Marlins, Brewers, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Giants, Mets.

Would I sign Reyes if I were a GM: Yes.

Will it be a “bad” signing for the club that does pay him? It might be, but his upside and that he’s a shortstop makes him worthwhile—within reason.

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Outside Interference

Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Players

In the past I’ve compared Scott Boras to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

As the evil wrestling manager with a penchant for chicanery, Heenan was the dastardly villain behind the heel in the wrestling ring; Boras has taken the same role for his clients with his skill at wrangling every single penny out of desperate club owners.

Both are brilliant at what they do.

The concept of “outside interference” has several connotations. In the wrestling ring, it entailed Heenan hitting the opponents of one of his charges with a folding chair, distracting the referee or forcing a disqualification to hold onto a title.

With Boras it comes from commenters, analysts and observers who feel it’s within their realm to advise players—like Jose Reyes—as to what they should and shouldn’t do in terms of his career.

The presumption inherent with opining that Reyes should stay with his current agents or leave them for Boras is beyond the scope of arrogant. It’s inexplicable.

Who or what gives them the insight, the knowledge, the audacity to say where a player should go; who should represent him; what his parameters should be in signing a contract?

After relentless stories and rumors that Reyes was “talking” to Boras, Reyes has chosen to stay with his longtime agent Peter Greenberg. It doesn’t sound as if he ever had any intention of leaving; it sounds as if Boras wanted to plant the story—in a Heenan/Pro Wrestling Illustrated sort of way—to pressure Reyes.

Reyes would have had reasons to go with Boras; he had reasons to stay with the Greenbergs. He chose to stay with the Greenbergs.

Outsiders weighing in is perfectly acceptable in this era of everyone having a viewpoint and a forum to express it; in the time of instantaneous gratification via the internet, but in reality, it’s no one’s business but Reyes and those close to him.

Had he switched to Boras, he would have been roasted for being “greedy” and looking for dollars above all else. The same “experts” will either criticize Reyes for his lack of business savvy in staying with the Greenbergs or credit him for the perception of money being secondary.

Who knows what the truth is?

And more importantly, apart from insinuating yourself into the debate, what business is it of yours?

On another note regarding Reyes’s decision to remain with the Greenbergs, the Mets now have a window of opportunity that they may or may not want.

Had he gone with Boras, there was no chance of the Mets keeping him. Since he’s staying with his current representation, the impression of “money, money, money” isn’t as prevalent.

If the Mets truly intend to let Reyes leave, then they’re probably quietly unhappy that he didn’t switch to Boras. Had he done that, the public may have turned away from the “keep Reyes” brigade.

With Boras, he was going to go wherever the dollar figure was highest. Period.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is skillful at pulling the levers and greasing the political axles; had Reyes chosen to hire Boras, Alderson would have framed it as an excuse for his departure.

Blame Boras.

But Reyes didn’t hire Boras.

If the Mets intend to make a competitive offer for Reyes—as opposed to a “show-me” offer to assuage the fans—the agent decision could play into a slightly lower price-tag to remain.

I get the idea he wants to stay.

Whether that translates into the team doing everything possible to make that happen will be made clearer as Alderson approaches the agents—the Greenbergs—with an offer, their response and how the leaks to the media are handled.

It could get messy.

Or it could be smoother than anyone anticipated.

We’ll see.

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