Why the Mets Were Right to Let Reyes Leave
Given all the information available as of December 8th, 2011, I’m willing to declare that the Mets were right to let Jose Reyes, arguably their best homegrown superstar this side of Tom Seaver, leave for the Miami Marlins.
With or without Reyes, barring some epic miracle, the Mets will not be contenders in 2012. That much is certain.
Beyond that, we can venture, at best, an educated guess as to when the Mets will have a legitimate shot at returning to the postseason. That time may come as soon as 2013. Or 2015. There are simply too many variables to consider; we cannot project with any degree of certainty when exactly the Mets will field a playoff team again.
Reyes’ contract might very well prove to be a boon for the Marlins, but that doesn’t mean the Mets should have matched Miami’s offer. If the Mets gave Reyes a 6-year deal themselves, they not only would have very likely been wasting the first year of Reyes’s contract, but potentially the first three. In other words, by the time the Mets’ window of contention reopens, Reyes’s best years might very well be behind him, and his performance would no longer justify the $22 million-dollar annual salary that he is scheduled to receive from 2015-2017. Even the most bullish analysts concede that Reyes might be hard-pressed to provide equal value to the Marlins at the back-end of the deal.
Sure, many people contend that the Mets should have resigned Reyes, because, while he doesn’t make the Mets a playoff-caliber team in 2012, he would be an integral part of any potential Mets playoff run in 2013 or 2014. There’s something to be said for that, particularly since it’s awfully difficult to find five- to six-win shortstops.
But that strategy is quite risky, as it’s largely contingent on the assumption that Jose Reyes will be the difference between at least an 85- and a 90-win team (if not a 90- and a 95-win team) by 2013 or 2014, and not the 75-80 win team the Mets are as of right now. Assuming the Mets did have the financial resources to resign Reyes, why not simply wait until the Mets are absolutely certain they can contend by 2013 or 2014?
The fact is, we will have a much better idea of where the Mets stand in 2013 at this time next year, than we do at this very moment. Granted, shortstop is a difficult position to replace. But if everything goes smoothly in 2012, and the Mets do, in fact, have a shot at contention in 2013, there are plenty of marquee free-agents — most notably Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain — who are potentially available next off-season, and would provide similar value to Reyes.
And while it’s hard to imagine that Cole Hamels will fill the black hole left in our hearts following Reyes’s departure, winning heals all wounds. Sandy Alderson was forced to make a tough decision Sunday night, and the Mets are a better team because of it.