Following the 2006 season everyone, and I mean everyone, was hailing Jose Reyes as the next great shortstop in Major League Baseball. He was easily headed to that Derek Jeter, Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins level. Along with third baseman David Wright, Reyes was to be the cornerstone of the New York Mets for years to come. Now he may not even finish the year in New York.
At the time, the 23-year-old Reyes hit .300, racked up 194 hits, belted 19 home runs, drove in 81 runs and stole 64 bases in 153 games.
During the 2006 season Reyes signed a four-year, $23.25 million extension, with an $11 million option for 2011. At the end of the 2010 season the Mets picked up that option.
After solid seasons in 2007 and 2008 Reyes suffered through injury-plagued seasons in 2009 and 2010. He just simply hasn’t been the same guy. He played just 36 games in 2009 and 133 in 2010. And now the Mets, despite picking up his big option, are reportedly looking for buyers for the 27-year-old shortstop.
Make no mistake, Reyes could certainly rise to the level he’s been at before. Hell, in 2008 he hit .297 with a career-high 204 hits, 16 home runs, 68 RBI, 56 stolen bases and a career-best .358 on-base percentage. The question is whether or not the Mets will wait around to see if Reyes can find himself. In fact, we’ve pondered this same question before.
ESPN’s Buster Olney claims that rival executives are convinced the Mets will deal Reyes at some point during the season because of their current financial woes. The Wilpon family is currently exploring the possibility of selling 20-25 percent of the team to an outside buyer. Why would they want to do that? Because of a pending lawsuit against the Wilpons – who actually profited from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme – from a Madoff family trustee who is looking to regain some of the money he lost.
So what does that mean in baseball terms? Don’t be surprised if the Mets begin to tighten their belts. New general manager Sandy Alderson was brought in because he’s a good baseball mind. But you can also bet that Alderson – who had a hand in the Oakland A’s “Moneyball” teams – will also try to sort through the team’s current financial mess.
If Reyes stays healthy this year he’ll certainly be looking for a contract in the $10 million-per year range, and that could be too expensive for the Mets. Especially because they have prospect Ruben Tejada almost ready to take over.
If Reyes plays well, expect the Mets to look for someone to take him beginning in late May or early June unless they are way out in front in the National League East.