Would You Extend Jose Reyes?

The Mets have publicly admitted that 2011 will be a year of “assessment” and salary dumping — and if they can find a way to compete through this season-long evaluation, it will be a bonus. The “new normal” for Mets management is to avoid the long-term, back-loaded, handcuffing contracts that have put the team in their current state of misery.

And that’s fine — it makes good sense. It doesn’t matter that the Mets had the wherewithal to chase a player seemingly built for their home park (Carl Crawford) — just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

The Red Sox — a team whose home park may be the exact opposite of Citi Field — wound up spending far too much money and committing too many years for Crawford. As much as I would have loved to see Crawford running around the outfield pasture and basepaths in Flushing, his cost wasn’t congruent with the Mets’ long-term plan.

However, the Mets already have a player very similar to Crawford, but who plays a much more premium position. His name is Jose Reyes, and he’s on the brink of entering the prime years of his career.

He’s also in his walk year, and Sandy Alderson has publicly declared that there will be no contract extension negotiated before Opening Day.

And that’s because … ?

After seeing a left fielder grab a 7-year, $142M deal, one would think that a shortstop with a similar skill set would receive offers STARTING at those figures.

Before it gets that far, wouldn’t it make sense to at least talk about an extension? Not a seven-year addendum, of course, but how about gauging Jose’s interest in a 2- or 3-year extension? Reyes has stated on multiple occasions — including recently — his desire to remain a Met and stay in New York. Right now, his leverage is at a low point due to his injuries in ’09, the thyroid problem of last spring, and the fact he’s not on the open market. But one relatively healthy season will change his bargaining power drastically — and if he has the kind of year of which we know he’s capable, his cost will skyrocket into the stratosphere. With a big year, he’ll price himself out of Flushing and the now-sensible, responsible front office. There won’t be any 6- or 7-year deals given to a shortstop approaching his 30s, because the back-end part of the contract won’t make financial sense.

But if the Mets were able to work out a 2- or 3-year extension now, they would control Reyes during what is normally a player’s “peak” years: ages 28-30; that age 31 year is likely to be the beginning of a downward trend, but also likely to be bearable.

Don’t listen to the naysayers who spout about Reyes’ “durability issues” and “questionable personality” and use those faux factors as evidence Reyes won’t be worth it, and/or won’t be highly coveted by other teams. First of all, shortstops with Reyes’ skills don’t grow on trees, and the ones that have them are locked up long-term. Secondly, even if Reyes has a so-so year — similar to his 2010, for example — there will be no shortage of suitors for his services. Heck, there could be a few teams from the NL East putting in bids, considering that the Nationals are suddenly big-time spenders and the similarly spendthrift Phillies will have Jimmy Rollins off the books. Outside the division, the Dodgers should have their ownership cleared up by then and can say goodbye to Rafael Furcal next winter; the Cubs have had internal discussions about eventually moving Starlin Castro to 2B, which would free up SS; the Reds would jump at a chance to upgrade from light-hitting Paul Janish (sorry, cuz); and the Giants could have an opening at short (and Barry Zito finally coming off the books). I didn’t even get into the AL teams yet, but you can guess that the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, and White Sox would all be in play; there’s reason to believe the Mariners, Orioles, and Blue Jays could put in bids. Let’s not even discuss what happens if Derek Jeter continues to trend downward in ’11. Take a cursory look around — there aren’t many two-way shortstops in the game today.

If the Mets know something about Jose’s thyroid issue that hasn’t been shared, then I can understand the hesitancy to lock him up for a few more years. I’d also “get it” if the Mets had a promising solution waiting on the farm, but they don’t (sorry, but I see Ruben Tejada as a career utilityman, and I don’t buy into the Wilmer Flores dream). But if Jose’s thyroid is OK, and the current talent evaluators share a similar view of the young shortstops in the organization, then something smells really fishy about refusing to at least talk about an extension for Reyes. If you don’t want a player of his caliber playing shortstop for you in 2012, 2013, and 2014, then is this “long-term plan” much longer than we think? More concerning, is there a real financial problem related to the Madoff Affair that has yet to rear its ugly head?

What do you think — would you at least start a conversation with Jose Reyes to discuss adding a few years to his current contract? Again, I’m not saying lock him up for a half-dozen years; just gauge his interest in extending by two or three. Why, or why not? Let us know in the comments.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Rotoprofessor December 15, 2010 at 7:19 am
    It never hurts to talk, but wouldn’t all of your points support Reyes not looking for a short extension right now? He knows, no matter what happens in 2011 he will have people throwing money at him, even for just one year. Why sign away his prime?
    • Joe Janish December 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm
      True enough, but you never know until you ask.

      We never would have guessed that Cliff Lee would wind up in Philly, leaving $30M and 2 years on the table — but Ruben Amaro asked.

  2. hernandezhofer December 15, 2010 at 8:17 am
    I agree with the professor. There is absolutely no incentive for Reyes to sign an extension now. For a confident, talented player, he knows all he has to do is play well this year to break the bank. Why would he sign a ‘safe’, 2-3 year deal? He already has earned millions, so its not about taking care of his family, its about maximizing his output. Even if he struggles this year, he STILL won’t take a 2-3 year deal, he would sign a one year contract to prove himself.
  3. mic December 15, 2010 at 8:54 am
    i like the mantra that Alderson has that NO one is a fixture.

    We are discussing Reyes and his thyroid, legs and attitude have been questioned. That said, Reyes is a sparkplug. I could go either way.

    Wright similarly…

    • elmelao December 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm
      Kudos for Joe Janish. You are correct in most points. You nailed the big points. Mets fans should come here and read your column.
      I was surprised you didn’t mention the fat that Reyes has been for the past 5-6 years one of the best and most complete shortstops in the league (before 2009). I think it is only reasonable that the team show him appreciation for what he has done.
      At the same time, It is only natural for Anderson to wait and see. I would feel the same way too. Maybe they are not really confident about his health.
      The point you raise about their finance is not a really good scenario. I really scares me. Because if that is the reason, then Mets fans will have to go through a long stretch of loosing, and embarrassment.
      The best thing to do for them is to give Reyes 3-4 years, maybe even 5. Show the rest of the league you care about your players, and that you really want to win. Then, trade for, or sign a young starting pitcher, a top notch pitcher.
      I think the Mets wil be good, if and only if they keep what they have, keep them healthy ( ;) ), and raise the moral in the clubhouse.

      Go Mets!

  4. Paul December 15, 2010 at 9:00 am
    I would talk to Reyes about a 3-4 year extension, but I think the boat sailed on that idea when Crawford signed his 7-year deal with Boston.
  5. NormE December 15, 2010 at 9:14 am
    A shortstop with Reyes’ skills are very hard to find. The Mets
    should do whatever is necessary (extension, new contract)
    to sign him for his prime years. It would be easier, but still
    difficult, to replace David Wright. The SS position is too
    important to let a player of Reyes’ abilities go. Plus, the
    excitement he brings to an often boring team is a major factor
    in keeping him in the fold.
  6. srt December 15, 2010 at 9:23 am
    I 100% agree concerning an extension with Reyes now. However, as others have stated, I think Alderson lost that opportunity by not acting quick enough. There really is no incentive for Reyes to sign a shorter extension now. Not unless he doesn’t care about the money at all (and he’d be a first) and absolutely wants to stay with the Mets.
  7. Anthony December 15, 2010 at 9:59 am
    Joe, this is one of the few columns you’ve ever written that I’d strenously disagree with – I wouldn’t even CONSIDER extending Reyes now.

    I haven’t liked his game much in the past couple of years. His power has declined and his percentage caught-stealing has increased. He’s too injury-prone, hasn’t grown up enough, and hasn’t won anything.

    I’m think is part of the problem with team chemistry Reyes, and I’d definitely consider trading him if he jumps off to a fast start.

    The Mets need to move on from the “glory year” of 2006 (I say this half in jest…that was their best year in awhile but there was no glory) and part of the solution is dumping Reyes for a nice package of prospects and/or young veterans.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm
      Well it’s about time we disagreed!

      I can see what you mean about the declines by looking at the stats from ’10; but, those numbers are skewed by the fact he didn’t really have a spring training, and spent the first 2-3 months playing himself into shape … I’m not sure he was ever truly 100% in 2010.

      Also, I think that playing under Jerry Manuel had a negative impact on his preparation and approach to all facets of the game. Yes, a person is responsible for his own actions but some benefit from more direction — I honestly believe that Reyes would have grown more as an all-around ballplayer if Willie Randolph was still around.

      I like your idea of a trade but how many prospects will the Mets get for someone who is essentially a one-year rental? They may be better off extending him by two years and THEN try trading him.

    • Steve from Norfolk December 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm
      I think the combination of 2007 and 2008,along with the refusal of Willie and Jerry to rest him periodically and give him a chance to recover a little from the daily wear and tear are mostly responsible for his injuries and lack of focus. Wright and Reyes are the cornerstones of this franchise. I’m sure Wright will be here for life, and he deserves to have Reyes with him. They came through the minors together, they’ve played together for eight years, They should have the chance to keep playing together!

      Besides, who are you going to replace him with? Tejada may be able to handle the defense, but at best, he’s a journeyman, not a star. The bottom line is Reyes sells tickets!

  8. KenH December 15, 2010 at 11:22 am
    I’m glad you wrote this, and completely agree that we should lock up Reyes for some more years. If he leaves, there is no way we will end up with as much production out of the shortstop position.

    The fear of bad contracts seems to be overwhelming in Altderson’s thinking now. You do have to take some risks. Yes Reyes is an injury risk, and that could increase with age. But the potential upside if we could lock him for a Hanley Ramierez type contract of $11m per year or so would be great. Sure we could overpay if he’s injured, but if he’s not we could be getting an astounding bargain, given the realities of the market. It’s a risk worth taking, and Alderson and crew should be talking to Reyes and exploring it.

  9. Ryan December 15, 2010 at 11:57 am
    It’s a Madoff thing. This Met front office is now comprised of Selig yes-men. When have you ever heard of a franchise hiring a GM on the publicized recommendation of the commissioner? Never. The commissioner essentially installed his guys in there to clean up the Wilpons’ act and maintain baseline organizational function so the whole operation doesn’t collapse.

    Getting rid of the mafioso “equipment manager” was another step.

    Let me throw this out there, billions of dollars get lost to Madoff but the Wilpons come out ahead? OK. The lawsuits are just starting to roll out, go ahead and google it. The entire network of those who didn’t lose is being tapped by those who did.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm
      That theory is gaining momentum; it may be worth an entire post shortly.
  10. Walnutz15 December 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm
    Reyes is a VERY tricky case.

    With a guy like Crawford on the market this winter — I think Reyes had very little chance of signing an early extension; as some wanted to rush into with him as soon as Alderson took over.

    I understand the fan-sentiment — but realistically speaking: Reyes never would have signed that early. I think you’d even have a hard time presenting an extension to him right now.

    If his agent’s worth a single dime, then he’s stressing the importance of health to his client for the upcoming season; and that he’ll be a VERY rich man by the time next winter’s through.

    Crawford’s contract
    Tulowitzki’s extension
    Jeter’s financials, at this point in his career

    All should make Reyes flash a tremendous smile.

    A solid season, coupled with 150-games player — and he can just about ask for whatever he wants…..because someone will very likely give it to him.

    Reyes’ agent is at a point where it would be foolish to let his client rush into anything.

    Personally, I’m of the belief that it would be crazy to pay a player like Jose Reyes upward of $20MM / per — and I actually love the guy’s tools (which are in the process of becoming less special [definitely lost a step on the basepaths last season, I wouldn't try to deny that]).

    He has a TON to prove this season.

    Crawford’s contract was just insane to me….yet, I can see a desperate team like the Nationals (w/Werth) flying out of nowhere to drive things up for us next off-season; provided it gets there.

    Right now, there’s absolutely no benefit (either to Reyes, or his agent) to sign anything without seeing what transpires within the first couple of months…..and if he did want to, I’d instantly be even more leery of his health.

    He’s capable of commanding ridiculous money; which is scary for the Mets in any situation.

    If there’s 1 thing that’s become perfectly clear to me this winter, it’s that the Mets will be paying through the nose for Jose Reyes’ services next winter….if not, earlier.

    He will NOT be cheap.

    So much is dependent upon the condition of his legs, that I’d need to see him until at least the ASB to have any sort of idea how I’d want to proceed with him.

    Too many “up in the air” factors right now…..and we’re at a point where I think it’s a stretch to say the Mets would get anything remotely close to the packages that people want to propose with his name attached.

    …which is why we’re in a tough spot.

    I’d have to be completely floored with any kind of return, and realistically speaking – I just can’t see it at this point in time.

    Best move anyone’s made so far?

    Putting it out there that Reyes [or anyone else on the roster] could be had…..just make sure it’s the right deal before you go pulling any triggers.

    I expect him to be here in April…..and just hope the Mets have a good idea of how they want to proceed with him as the summer plays itself out.

  11. micalpalyn December 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm
    While Reyes, santana, CB even Bay are at low value David Wright is not. AND as a position player, GG 3rd baseman He will be a corner of a megatrade.

    PLUS we have a laundry list of potential 3rd basemen…Nick Evans, Dan Murphy, Wilmer, Zach Lutz…not to mention CHEAP FA options…(Mike Lowell?)

    Starting fresh….but thats one way of dumping Castillo’s or Perez’s salary.

    • Rob December 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm
      Are you insane? None of the folks you mentioned as cheap replacements for Wright are even remotely comparable. Wright is at the center of the heart and soul of this franchise. He is the franchise. You don’t dump him in a so-called mega-trade unless you can get a comparable third baseman in return. And who could replace him? Insanity rules with Mets fans. Incredible.
  12. micalpalyn December 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    I still dont believe the RSoxx thing is closed. I can see CB in CF, Crawford in LF and we get Dice-K back.
  13. Mike December 15, 2010 at 1:11 pm
    I don’t really know what to do with Reyes. If there was another internal option then this would be easy, but 2-3 more years of Reyes sounds really good while the team waits on Flores or someone else to be ready. But if Sandy has the MO of waiting and seeing players for himself before making a decision then he should do that and not make any exceptions.

    Speaking of Flores, exactly what dream are you not buying into Joe? If it’s the “he is a SS” dream then I agree, I don’t buy it either. He just doesn’t fit the physical profile going forward. But if it is the “he will be a great hitter” dream then I respectfully disagree. I’m not going to bring up the “he compares favorably to Miguel Cabrera” argument because Toby Hyde already did that for me at Metsminorleagueblog.com (everything but power potential is favorable). Instead I’ll just say that at 19, healthy, productive, not rushed, and committed to staying at SS Wilmer is exactly the kind of prospect anyone in MLB would want. He will likely not stay at SS, but his commitment is impressive.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2010 at 1:37 pm
      First, I don’t buy — for a second — the idea that Flores is a shortstop.

      Comparing Flore to Cabrera is asinine. You can’t just take two random players who had similar stats at similar ages through only 200 pro games and conclude that they’ll have similar career paths — particularly in the case of teenagers. Is that what Toby Hyde did? There are too many variables, such as the competition each player faced, the rate and level of maturity (physical and mental), and myriad other factors.

      And you leave a gaping hole in the argument by saying “everything but the power is favorable” — the power IS the differentiating factor. Otherwise Jesus Feliciano would’ve been in MLB a long time ago and Jeff Duncan would be patrolling CF in Flushing today.

      Since we agree Flores is not a SS, then he’s likely a corner guy (INF or OF) — which means his success or failure is directly tied to his power numbers.

      If Flores hits .360 in AA this year then we can start considering Cabrera comps.

      • Mike December 17, 2010 at 11:06 am
        http://www.metsminorleagueblog.com/2010/12/01/can-wilmer-flores-become-miguel-cabrera/

        He starts by saying that saying Flores can become Cabrera is pretty foolish. That was not my intent. My point is that with projectable youngster like Flores you really can only try to find a comparable player to see what you can project. Flores is strikingly similar right now to Cabrera at the same levels and Flores is about a year younger. The only place where Flores is not better or about the same is power. And that is only because there is no way to project that Flores will grow to become the same body as Cabrera (meanwhile they are the same height and again Flores is a year younger). Last year Flores had a .424 SLG between A/A+, while Cabrera had a .421 at A+ while 1 year older. So that I am even arguing Flores doesn’t project out to have as much power shows that I am not just looking at numbers and proclaiming the second coming of Miguel Cabrera.

        But compare the stats and then you will see that comparing the two is indeed unfair but still really interesting considering the similarities. With someone so young all you can do is project and this one is extremely fun to think about. I don’t believe Flores = Cabrera. I just think it is worth watching.

        • Joe Janish December 17, 2010 at 11:48 pm
          I don’t see many similarities, but I’m looking at what those two players physically looked like and did with their bodies at similar ages, not the numbers. In particular, I’m not seeing the “quick hands” and “great hand-eye coordination” that some of the “analysts” are asserting — I see a big kid with a slow, loopy, complicated swing that is inefficient and doesn’t make enough solid contact. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t improve — drastically — in the next 2 years. I think these minor league radio announcers and other “experts” are in love with Wilmer’s body and seeing something that doesn’t (yet?) exist.
  14. Rob December 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm
    Given the flavor of the posts, I guess there’s a decided split between those who want to keep Reyes and those who would dump him in a NY minute. I stand in the former camp. I don’t know how people can advocate dumping a player that serves as the sparkplug for this offense. I can’t remember the statistic, but when Reyes scored last year, the Mets essentially won a large percentage of those games. Maybe it was coincidence, but he appears to have stood at the heart and soul of the offense. As for his attitude, what’s not to like about a guy who genuinely appears to be enjoying himself in the game? As for those who suggest that they dump him for prospects, focus on the term “prospects”. That’s all they are. Joe can probably tell us what percentage of prospects ever actually work out. We have a known quantity who, when healthy, is among the best shortstops in the game. The same holds true for our third baseman. To dump these guys for prospects…that’s just plain silly. I think you can still build a team around these guys and I think that the new Met management will have a wiser mechanism for doing so.

    But of course, one of the problems with being a Mets fan is that cooler heads never seem to prevail. I’m hoping that has changed with new management. Aldersen says he’s going to evaluate at spring training, so let’s wait and see what happens. Meantime, I’m just glad that none of those folks who are advocating a “dump with glee” philosophy are running my favorite team. I choose to ignore them and I hope that Mr. Aldersen is ignoring them as well.

    Thanks, Joe! Keep up the great analysis.

  15. mrtasan December 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm
    wait until trade deadline to see what good deals you can get….see where the team is and what parts in the organization you have.

    its really a what have you done for me lately case scenario with reyes…since his first couple of years in the bigs, he hasn’t done much except get hurt.

    see if there is a great deal of interest in him…if no good deals by trade deadline, offer arbitration

    • Steve from Norfolk December 17, 2010 at 12:35 am
      mrtasan,

      To quote you, “…since his first couple of years in the bigs, he hasn’t done much except get hurt.”

      Let’s see–Reyes played 161 games in 2005.149 in 2006,160 in 2007, 159 in 2008, 36 in 2009, and 133 in 2010. 2009 can be at least partially blamed on Manuel’s attempts to rush him back, so we’ll call that a wash. So, this player that doesn’t do much except get hurt still managed to play 83% of his team’s games over a 6 year period. If you remove 2009, he played a little over 95% of his team’s games. His average VORP was 45.5, with a high in 2008 of 66.2. Also, there is no arbitration – he’s a free agent after this year (roughly 8 years ML time). Even last year, which I think we all can agree was an off year for Jose, his VORP was 5th in al of MLB. Most years, ne’s 1st or @nd.He’s been an excellent performer for us. The question is – do we want to pay enough to keep him and his excellent offense AND defense? Or do we settle for what we can get for 1/2 a year of Jose?

      • tasan December 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm
        i dunno if you actually watch mets games…but he’s playing hurt a lot of the time…

        correct me if i’m wrong but he hasn’t won a gold glove yet…and he’s very streaky and was a free swinger when he first came up…

        granted he’s a good player but his potential so far has been higher than what he’s actually bringing to the field…

  16. gary s. December 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm
    I’m a big reyes fan.but after last years injuries and his power numbers and oba going backwards, i don’t have a problem taking a wait and see attitude.Nobody saw the thyroid problem coming.I want to see this guy get through soring training without a thyroid recurrence, a leg problem or a oblique issue.Last year we saw a shell of Jose Reyes based on previous performance.I have serious doubts he will ever be the 200 hit/120 runs/80 stolen base performer of a few years ago.If he has a decent year and someone offers hone 7 years at 100 million, inho the mets would be crazy to match.It would slso be crazy to think we get him to extend for 2-3 seasons now, unless he has the worst agent in the history of professional sports.I really enjoyed reading all the opinions.This will be very interesting to watch play out in 2011.
    • Joe December 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm
      Alderson has all but announced that Jose Reyes won’t be a Met after 2011. If he has a down year, the Mets won’t want to re-sign him. If he has a good year, the Mets won’t want to make the long-term, high-dollar commitment he’ll command. Either way the result is the same.

      The only possibility is If he gets off to a hot start, maybe the Mets would entertain talks for an extension. But again, if you wait until then, why wouldn’t he just wait till the end of the year and really cash in?

      My guess is that the Mets will try to deal him at the deadline. Draft picks are nice — and the Mets need them — but for a player of Reyes’ caliber, in his prime years, I’d hope they would try to get a better return than two complete unknowns.

      • Rob December 17, 2010 at 11:57 am
        Joe: Explain to me what the long term plan would be if you don’t tie up Jose. I guess that they would be relying on luck in happening on another shortstop with his skills. And I’m assuming that they don’t believe that they will be competitive for the next four or five years? Can the situation really be that dire in the Mets system that they project to being that dismal? I mean, if they don’t sign Jose, it will be because he’s either “over” in terms of his physical abilities or because he’s too expensive. If the later, since when is the largest market team in the country after the Yankees and Red Sox unable to afford to go long term on a terrific player who is still relatively young? I’m so very confused by the Aldersen plan, if he’s outright suggesting that Jose isn’t fitting in that plan. Who else do we build around? Some player who isn’t even in the bigs yet? Some free agent shortstop who we will end up paying as much as it would cost to tie up Jose? Or does shortstop go back to being the Raphael Santana/Kevin Elster combo of yesteryear?
        • Joe Janish December 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm
          Maybe the “plan” is to stink royally for the next 5 years and stock up on high first-round picks. In the meantime the Moneyball experts find very efficient short-term solutions at shortstop, giving one- and two-year deals to Jason Bartlett and Marco Scutaro types.

          I wonder if there is much more to the Madoff thing that we don’t yet know.

  17. Gehoff December 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    Who plays short if they trade Jose or let him leave at the end of the year? Its not like they can find an upgrade at the position. He is home grown, he is a fan favorite and he is still in his prime. So extend him while there are doubts about his durability and will come cheaper. If he has a healthy year they will have to give him crawford money.
  18. Nick December 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm
    A little late but I thought that I would give my point of view. I’m only 14 so I hope that you are impressed. I believe that every team has a core of players and the Mets are no exception. Ike Davis, David Wright, Angel Pagan and Jose Reyes are the heart and soul of the New York Mets. Not only are they some of the best at what they do, they are the face of the franchise and they each provide something to the clubhouse. In Jose’s case, he provides energy and leadership and is an offensive spark-plug. I believe that the Mets won 60 or 70 percent of the time in games that Reyes came around to score.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Mets have to sign Reyes. They don’t have many options at that position at this point and I believe that Alderson is only willing to raise the overall payroll by $5 million therefore pretty much eliminating any free agent or trade options. And why would a trade even be an option for a guy like this? The guy comes out every day and gives it all he’s got and actually looks like he’s having fun in the process. I think that he has performed admirably to this point and I think that the Mets should definitely sign him.
    Thanks Joe, keep up the great analysis!