Reyes Pulls a Pujols

According to Adam Rubin on ESPN-NY, Jose Reyes is not interested in negotiating a contract extension after Opening Day. Said Reyes:

“I don’t want to talk about any contract during the season because I want to be focused on doing my thing and help this team to win a lot of ballgames”

And, perhaps in response to new GM Sandy Alderson’s edict that the Mets would wait to “see how he plays” when asked if the team would extend Reyes …

My family is here. They’re comfortable. I’ve got my daughter here going to school. I don’t want to be somewhere else. But, at the same time, I understand this is a business and everybody never knows what’s going to happen. I just want to perform on the field and see what happens after.

It’s too easy — and not fair — to parallel these quotes by Reyes with the recent demands / deadline set forth by Albert Pujols. Though it’s being spun similarly, there is no indication that Reyes is insisting on an extension right now. Would he like one? Of course — he’s clearly happy to be a Met and in New York. I don’t think these quotes are in any way intended to spark the front office to begin negotiating. Rather, Reyes is simply stating what any ballplayer SHOULD state: that he wants to focus on his job and performance on the field once the games begin.

And truly, what would it matter if Reyes’ intention was to establish an ultimatum? The writing is on the wall — Jose Reyes most likely will be in another uniform in 2012 (possibly at some point in 2011). If Reyes has another injury-filled year, or if he has only a so-so year, the Mets probably will let him walk. If he has a spectacular season, Alderson probably won’t offer the long-term deal he’s likely to attract on the open market. The only way I can see him returning to Flushing in 2012 is if he has a horrid season, or misses 100+ games, in which case he’ll need to sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract to rebuild his value.

What I find interesting is that many fans have this notion that the Mets will get a great package of young MLBers and top prospects if Reyes starts out strong and is traded near the deadline. But why would a team give up a big package for a three-month rental? And if such team was in the playoff hunt, they’d be very unlikely to give up anyone on the 25-man roster, and might not be willing to part with near-ready talent, either. I suppose there are a number of things that can happen between now and July, but I’m just not seeing the Mets getting a spectacular return for Reyes in a deadline deal. Maybe if a contending team loses their starting shortstop to injury, and they feel Reyes can both fill in and put them over the top — then maybe they’d give up the farm. Who knows, maybe someone like the Reds would pull the trigger on a deal, or the Brewers; both of those teams seem destined to make a good run yet might be one player short of a championship season.

The way things look, my plan is to savor every at-bat Jose Reyes takes as a Met in 2011, since his days appear numbered. On the flip side, we may be engaging in interesting conversation about him five months from now.

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. Rob January 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm
    Joe: There is a part of me that absolutely positively won’t accept the notion that the Mets would let a talent like Reyes go quietly into the night. Trading him will not get us the package of players that we would expect in return. Allowing him to leave on free agency doesn’t make sense, because there is no one in the minor leagues that could replace him… and more importantly, no one out there of comparable talent that would come to NY for less than they would have to pay Reyes to keep him! It just doesn’t make financial or baseball sense to let him go unless he’s truly done as a player because of health issues…and I can’t see that being true.

    I’m also not entirely sure that the interpretation of Alderson’s comments should lead one to report on the ESPNRumorCentral that “Reyes could be done in Queens”. Seriously, the speculative nature of these reports is just amazing. Which leads me to a second theory of where this stuff is coming from…there’s nothing else exciting to report out of Queens, so the reporters just have to make stuff up based upon what little they have. Interviewing Reyes, they got exactly what anyone would say at this point in the offseason and their career: “I’d prefer to focus on baseball after opening day and I’d love to be a Met, but hey, its not up to me.” What…he’s going to fall all over himself trying to ingratiate himself into the Met heirarchy? His agent probably insisted that he temper his words. And as for Alderson, does anyone really think he’s going to suggest to world that the Mets are willing to spend bundles of cash on all of their own players with no limit? Heck no. He’s posturing too. They want to be positioning themselves to obtain some leverage. All of this means that the words coming out of both sides should be treated with a grain of salt. The baseball decision should be about who will be the best and most realistic player to man the shortstop position for the Mets in 2012 and beyond. Unless someone wants to point to a less expensive and equally dynamic player to replace him, I’m still banking on Reyes being a Met in 2012 and thereafter.

    ]There…I’ve vented enough. Thanks for raising this issue again, Joe. I hope that you are wrong and that I am right and that my favorite Met of the last ten years sticks around.

    All the best,
    Rob

    • Joe Janish January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm
      I also hope I’m wrong. Reyes is easily the most exciting player to wear a Mets uniform since Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. And Citi Field is built for him to flourish; I can see him breaking the MLB single-season record for triples if he can stay healthy for 150+ games.
  2. Steve S. January 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm
    Maybe he’ll show he’s healthy and that he’ll be productive in spring training games, and Alderson will sign him to a multi-year deal towards the end of March.
  3. CatchDog January 21, 2011 at 8:51 am
    Bullseye, Rob.
  4. gary s. January 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm
    big reyes fan, but all his numbers are going backwards due to injuries.He has never learned to take enough walks to raise his oba.only .335 last year.not good enough.Drew 27 walks last year in 563 ab’s..that’s really bad for a leadoff hitter.Due to leg problems, he will run and steal bases much less than he did 2-3 years ago.So, basically u have a good player who;s going to hit about .275 to .280, steal 30-35 bases, strike out 75-80 times and walk 35-40 times.If he can get a 5 year deal for 75 mill, more power to him,On the flip side, if he stays healthy for the entire spring training, a 3 year deal for 30-35 mill would seem like a fair offer.We gave that dog. ollie perez 36 mill to do nothing for 3 years.36mill to reyes for 3 years would yield much results.Like Joe, i think he’s a goner though
    • Joe Janish January 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm
      After seeing what Werth and Crawford received, there’s no way Reyes gets less than a 5-year deal if he stays healthy. Yes, big “if”, I know.

      Disagree on the walks issue, as far as his “never” being able to draw them. When Willie Randolph had his ear, he made progress in regard to patience and plate discipline – he drew 77 walks in ’07 and 66 in ’08. I realize those aren’t spectacular numbers but they’re better than most players who are not genuine HR threats. His walk rate and discipline diminished dramatically after “hands-off” Jerry Manuel took over — it wasn’t a coincidence.

  5. Scott January 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm
    The Mets are in a bad situation with Reyes. As a fan, he is exiting to watch and i will hate to see him go. But its too risky to sign him to an extension with his injury history and dependence on his legs. The most i am hoping for is a good start from him and a deal that will result in some legit talent. Not much else they can do. When Jose loses that extra burst, he will be an average SS.