There are three good reasons the Mets should not re-sign Jose Reyes:
Not necessarily in that order.
Additionally, I’d add a fourth reason — Yadier Molina — if I weren’t 100% certain that the Cardinals would exercise their option on him. Because I do believe that a great catcher is more valuable than a great shortstop — if for no other reason than there are far fewer great catchers than there are great shortstops, but also because I believe a great catcher can have more of an impact on a team’s success or failure (and the sabermetricians have yet to provide stats to prove this, but we’re still early in the process and I hold faith that eventually they’ll figure it out).
Of course, it’s possible that none of the above three players are free agents by next Thursday, when the open free agent officially market begins. It’s also possible that the Mets re-sign Reyes during their “exclusive negotiation window” between now and then. But in the event that Reyes, Pujols, Sabathia, and Fielder are all truly “free” agents, and the Mets consider spending $90M+ to keep their All-Star shortstop, my feeling is that the money would be better spent on either of the slugging first baseman or the lefthanded pitcher.
You may argue that it won’t take $90M to sign Reyes, and/or, that $90M won’t be enough to sign any of the other three. You may be right, in which case this post is moot. But play with me here for a bit, just for the sake of conversation. Let’s just pretend that, say, the Mets actually have about $100M to spend. If that were the case, why couldn’t the brilliant Mets front office do something “out of the box” and offer a three-year, $100M deal to one of these four players, instead of some crazy 5- to7-year (or longer) contract? Considering that MLBers are no longer performing at peak performance in their mid- to late-30s (cough, cough, PEDs testing), and also considering the ostrich eggs laid by the likes of Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford in 2011, one might wonder if free-agent contracts will evolve toward a new format — perhaps one where players get shorter deals with higher dollar values per year. Most likely, it won’t happen this year, but couldn’t you see the possibility of things changing that way eventually?
But back to our discussion. Again, let’s pretend that the dollars and years required to sign Jose Reyes are similar to the cost of signing Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, or C.C. Sabathia — which of those four would you choose?
As much as I love to watch Jose Reyes play baseball, my objective side has to pick one of the other three. Sabathia would become the ace the Mets don’t have — someone they could build a pitching staff around. Great pitching remains rare and valuable, and there are few of Sabathia’s ilk in MLB right now — even fewer who are available.
As for Fielder and Pujols, both are game changers. Both are better than any hitter the Mets have had since Mike Piazza in his prime. Both can singlehandedly raise a lineup to a new level and make the hitters around them better. And either can turn a non-contender into a contender. Jose Reyes cannot — evidenced by 2011, when his outstanding season had little impact on the Mets’ performance as a team.
Some of you may be screaming, “hey, what about Ike Davis? why would the Mets sign a first baseman when they have a young star-in-the-making like Davis?”. With all due respect, Ike Davis is neither Albert Pujols nor Prince Fielder. Will he be some day? I doubt it, though you never know. First, Davis has to return from his season-ending injury and prove he’s healthy. Then, he has to step up his game dramatically to approach the production of Pujols or Fielder, then, he has to do it over a five-year period (at least) before you can mention him in the same sentence as those two monsters. Will Ike Davis become a perennial .290-.300 hitter who threatens to hit 40 HR every year, while walking 100+ times, driving in 120+ runs, and posting a .400 OBP and an OPS near .900? I’d be thrilled if he did, but not sure he’ll be that kind of player. Maybe he’ll reach those kind of numbers in his peak years, but it’s doubtful that will be his typical production.
So then, if the Mets did sign a monster first baseman, what would they do with Davis? For one, they could put him in left field — he can’t be any worse than Lucas Duda. He played some OF in college, and he has a spectacular arm, so it’s not a crazy idea. If he proves to be healthy, he might be the centerpiece of a trade that fills one of the Mets’ other holes. It would be a pleasant problem to have Ike Davis as excess talent, wouldn’t it?
Yes, I know this idea that Sabathia, Pujols, and Fielder are unlikely to be fetched for the same cost as Reyes, but if you were the Mets, and the cost turned out to be similar to sign one of the four, which would you choose and why? Answer in the comments.
About the Author
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.