Does Rickie Weeks Deal Impact Jose Reyes?

Earlier this week, it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers signed second baseman Rickie Weeks to a 4-year, $38M contract extension (that could go 5 years/$50M if he stays healthy). Essentially, the Brewers have locked up Weeks through what many consider the “prime years” of a player’s career — ages 28-31.

I look at this deal and wonder if the Mets would do something similar with Jose Reyes?

Granted, Weeks and Reyes are different ballplayers — but they’re not THAT different. They both play a middle infield position, they both bring an exciting mix of speed and power to the table, they’ve both struggled with injuries throughout their career, and they are similar in age (Reyes is a year younger). Of course, they apply their similar offensive skill sets differently — Weeks hits more homeruns and strikes out more often, while Reyes steals more bases and hits for a higher average. Last year, Weeks was better at getting on base (.366 to .321), but Reyes’ OBP in his healthy years previous is right in that ballpark (.354,.354,.358 from ’06 – ’08).

At shortstop, Jose Reyes has more defensive value — just by the nature of the position being more important and generally more difficult to fill with an offensive force. As with his OBP, Reyes’ defense went backward last year, but again, in his healthy years, he proved to be at least average to above-average defensively.

The major difference between the two players — beyond the homerun and strikeout numbers — is that Weeks finally played in 150 games and had a career year in 2010, whereas Reyes had his second straight season impacted by injury / illness. That said, it could be argued that the Brewers are paying Weeks when his value is at his highest, while the Mets have the opportunity to extend Reyes when his value is at its lowest. And if four years and $38M is the best that Weeks can do after a career year, one could suggest that Reyes — coming off a poor year — would be lucky to get such a deal right now.

Of course, there is the theory that Reyes will continue to get worse and worse, and/or will never play in 150+ games again. But that’s the case with every ballplayer, isn’t it? No matter who it is, there’s some kind of risk involved when signing players to multi-year deals. There was risk in the Johan Santana, Jason Bay, and Luis Castillo deals, for example — but those were players signed at their peak value, and after their peak years were behind them. There’s a chance now to lock up a talented ballplayer at his lowest value through his peak years — how often does that opportunity arise? And how often at a premium position such as shortstop?

There’s been a lot of buzz in Mets parts about the “moneyball” philosophy and the tremendous job the new front office has done working under a tight budget this winter. And I agree, they’ve done well in stretching the dollar. But getting players on cheap, short term deals to fill immediate holes — i.e., minimizing risk — is only half the game. To succeed over the long haul, you have to also be “smart” by maximizing opportunity — in other words, identifying bargains and keeping them at bargain rates in the future.

If Fred Wilpon is truthful when he says that there are no financial constraints — which I don’t believe — then why wouldn’t the Mets sit down Jose Reyes right now and discuss a deal that is similar to what was recently negotiated with Weeks? Granted, it would have to be a bit more, since Reyes makes $11M this year, but it wouldn’t have to have an annual salary much higher — it could be less than $15M — and it wouldn’t have to be anywhere near the 5-7+ year term that Reyes will demand next winter if he plays a full season and performs as well as is expected.

Let’s face it — there’s no way that it will make sense for the Mets to enter into one of those mega-deals with Reyes, even if he plays all 162 games and wins the Triple Crown. And even if he continues to put up merely a .750-.800 OPS over the next 3-4 years as an average-fielding shortstop, that’s still likely to be better than someone else the Mets can find to play the position. After all, they have no one in the minors projected to be a shortstop with that kind of offensive potential, there’s no one comparable coming up on the free agent market in the next two years, and the Mets don’t and won’t have the trading chips to acquire a shortstop of that caliber.

One last thing: if the Mets sign Reyes to a manageable, affordable extension now, he’ll be more attractive as a trading chip later this year and next year — and that might be the best reason to lock him up 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. cdubbs February 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm
    totally agree. i hope new mets management knows how much jose means to mets fans and realize that the possible fallback options are none too enticing. reyes is a ballplayer, and even without his superior wheels of today he will produce for the long haul, as long as he’s able to be on the field.

    there is no way i believe that wilpon has no financial restraints…i mean isnt that what why he’s been in the spotlight the last few weeks? because his bankroll is unstable at the moment.

    • cdubbs February 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm
      in other words, sign him now!
  2. Jay February 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm
    You make some great points about ways in which the Weeks signing impacts the Mets and Reyes but one additional point is, at least in my view, that Weeks was a potential target for the Mets to acquire as a middle infielder to help offset the loss of Reyes via free agency or trade. Now that option is likely gone so the Mets have one less fallback position than they did previously.
    • Joe Janish February 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm
      That’s a great point that I hadn’t considered — thanks for sharing.

      The shortstops who as of today can be free agents next winter include: John McDonald, JJ Hardy, Rafael Furcal, Augie Ojeda, Ramon Santiago, Jack Wilson. Yuniesky Betancourt and Marco Scutaro may or may not have their options picked up. As for 2B, Kelly Johson, Clint Barmes and Freddy Sanchez are the top names (I’m guessing that options are picked up on Robby Cano and Brandon Phillips).

  3. Walnutz15 February 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    If Reyes’ agent is worth a single dime, then he’s advising that Jose wait out the entire season to milk that one insane “Jayson Werth” offer on the open market next winter.

    As we all know, “(stuff) happens” throughout the course of the winter.

    – The Rox and Tulowitzki
    – The Sox and Crawford
    – The Nats and Werth (as one of the few “attractive” position players on the open market this winter)
    – Jeter’s extension from the Yanks

    All of these things would have had me stopping dead in my tracks as Reyes’ agent — “we”re waiting until next winter to decide anything, Jose”….that’s the end of that.

    ……which is why it’s laughable to think that sects of Met fans are condemning Alderson for not signing Reyes to a “discounted extension” after 5 minutes on the job.

    Wasn’t happening.

    Now, Rickie Weeks is awarded $50MM/per over 5 years.

    – talented
    – nice pop
    – progressing at the plate – it would seem, with his increasing OBP.

    Like Reyes, another guy who goes down with the injury bug a little too often — and playing regularly is going to be the key to his success.

    I think you just witnessed a contract where – if Reyes plays a full, healthy season, then he’ll command upward of $15MM/per to start.

    For the Mets:

    Of course, you want to keep your homegrown speedster.

    At the same time, signing a player like Reyes “at all costs” to whatever money his agent asks for – would be nonsensical.

    I’m of the belief that it would be crazy to pay a player like Reyes upward of $20MM / per season – ideally, you max out at maybe $15MM [after a healthy, productive season], which would still be expensive, for elite tools – which are in the process of becoming less special.

    I don’t care what anyone tries to say: he definitely lost a step on the basepaths last season.

    He has A LOT to prove this season.

    The thing that bugs me most about Jose Reyes? — this is going to be his 9th season in the Big Leagues; yet he still hasn’t completely grasped the mental approach to the game.

    It may have been this past season – it may have been ’09….but he was on a “brain fart” tip there, where he was completely psyched out – in an Ollie Perez-type way.

    No matter how fast you think you are, you’re not going to beat out a throw to 3rd, standing in the middle of 2nd and 3rd – on a ground ball hit right in front of you to SS.

    I’m hoping against hope that he stays healthy, is productive, and that he can minimize the questionable decisions he makes throughout a game….because he’s the type that compounds matters worse when he doesn’t.

    Don’t think Alderson hasn’t seen the same from afar…..and that’s what he’ll be waiting on before he enters into true discussions with Peter Greenberg.

    • Joe Janish February 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm
      True that Reyes’ agent should be telling him to play out the year. But from everything we’ve heard, the Mets are the ones who have been uninterested in talking extension. If anything, from what has come from Jose’s mouth — and ultimately, the agent must do what Jose wants — there is interest from Reyes to be a “Met for life”.

      I agree that Reyes may not be the player he was in ’06-’08, and that he hasn’t made significant improvement as far as the mental approach to the game. But he’s still potentially far and away better than anyone else the Mets will be able to put at shortstop the next 2-3 years. Moreover, the Mets are in a rebuilding phase, and have nothing on the farm to rebuild with. Reyes has very little value in trade right now due to his injury history and that he’s in a walk year. But if he’s locked up for a few years and proves healthy in 2011, he could fetch a significant package of prospects over the winter that would help the Mets rebuild — and as mentioned in the post, that might be the best reason to extend him now.

  4. oktoday February 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm
    This will be the most important season for the team. Because either they show a good season, and the fans follow them at the gate, or else there will be trouble for
    the entire team, including the players and the owners. Because if the fans do not come out to see the games, then more then likely not only will many of the players not stay on the team, but the owners may not be able to keep the club in their hands any more.

    Which then means more then likely, in a short distance of time, they will end up with a new owner who will have to put the whole new team back together again.

    Or if the team does good, and Jose breaks out of his slow time (because what he did so far, was really slow time for him), and now shows that whatever he did before, was only the beginning of his talent.

    And now you will see the star of stars playing SS.
    How about BA between 300 to 325, OBP 410, slugging 450,
    while hitting 20+ triples/homers and 40+ dbls, plus an all star player along with his defense.

    And ever since he came up, there was a special feeling by so many fans that he would be that star of stars.

    Because he alone could bring in fans if he comes close to that to see them play either here, or on the road at every game more then any other player in the Mets history. Something like great pitchers do on the one day that they pitch.

    And in that sense if the team and Jose agree to stay on the club no matter what it cost after he shows that he is truly the star of stars, it will be a great day for the team, Jose and the Met Fans.

  5. Jargal February 18, 2011 at 8:15 pm
    You sound like his agent.

    There are plenty of reasons not to sign him now, none of which you mention – injuries, his frequent loss of focus, etc. etc.

    • Joe Janish February 19, 2011 at 12:53 am
      Darnit! You found me out … I AM his agent!

      Jargal, you seem to miss the point of this post: that he can be signed while he’s at his lowest point of value BECAUSE of his injury history. As for his loss of focus, I agree it is an issue, but that doesn’t keep him from being better than 75% of shortstops in MLB when healthy.

      Other than his injury history and loss of focus, what else falls under the “etc.” that you present?

  6. Nick February 19, 2011 at 2:24 am
    Anybody else think that if we get Reyes on this type of deal then it’s an early Christmas?
  7. Gavin February 20, 2011 at 8:50 am
    Even if a supposed down year when Reyes didn’t get a ST and had other injury issues throughout the year, he out-performed most other SS offensively and was decent defensively. Sign him up already! Playing a full season is probably going to augment the possibility of injury in the future when one takes into consideration his reliance on speed