Will Jose Reyes Stay With the Mets?

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July 15th, 2011

By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer

Conventional wisdom across baseball seems to suggest that the question is not if, but when Jose Reyes – among others – will be shipped out of Queens as the New York Mets firesale their team and begin the rebuilding process. But with the recent trade of closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets actually don’t have to make any more deals in any form to meet their desired payroll cuts – AND still sign Reyes in the offseason.

The Mets payroll this season is $142,797,166, or roughly $143 million. But that includes $12 million for Oliver Perez and $6 million for Luis Castillo, both of which come off the books at the end of the year. Add in the $5.9 the Mets tossed in for the rest of the K-Rod trade and the $1 million they’re still paying Gary Mathews Jr., and that’s suddenly $26.9 million that will no longer matter for next season. In fact, when combined with the pending free agency of both Reyes and Carlos Beltran, the money that the Mets have committed towards 2012 is just $66.830 million, not including any arbitration eligible players. Without K-Rod’s potentially crippling $17.5 million option, the Mets are now poised to – beyond anyone’s surprise – become one of the big SPENDERS of the 2012 free agent class.


But let’s be reasonable here. There are a lot of pieces that need to be assembled, since that $66 million includes $24 million to Johan Santana, $18 million to Jason Bay, and $15 million to David Wright. Factor in the arbitration for Mike Pelfrey, Angel Pagan, Ronny Paulino, Bobby Parnell, and Taylor Bucholz, and it’s more likely that the actual Mets payroll will be closer to $80-$90 million.

Still, the targeted payroll goal for general manager Sandy Alderson is around $120 million, which means there will be room for two impact players on the Mets roster – and for my money, it should be Reyes and another frontline pitcher to pair with Santana. With the way the game is played nowadays, it’s critical to pitch and play defense, and that’s BEFORE the factor of Citi Field, which is a notorious pitchers’ park. Plus, depending upon the cost of Reyes and whatever other pitcher is brought in, it might still be possible to resign Beltran, though it’s not absolutely necessary to do so.

“But Mike,” you say, “I’m sure Reyes will take the highest bidder available.” Correct, and I have yet to hear an argument made that someone besides the Mets will be that “highest bidder.” For starters, the two highest-spending teams, the Yankees and Red Sox, won’t be players in the Reyes sweepstakes. Neither will the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Tigers, Braves, or Cubs, all of whom are pushing their payroll limits as well. Cross off the Twins, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Orioles, Blue Jays, Rays, Indians, Royals, Rockies, Padres, Mariners, Astros, Rangers, Marlins, Nationals, and Athletics as well, as those teams either can’t afford or simply do not need Reyes.

That leaves a total of four potential suitors – the White Sox, Angels, Phillies, and Mets. Reyes is a native of Puerto Rico and likes to be able to fly home quickly, which means that almost certainly eliminates both the White Sox and Angels. That would leave an interesting bidding war between the Phillies and Mets. Jimmy Rollins is a free agent, and all indications are that he won’t be resigning with Philadelphia. Considering the money that the Phillies also have coming off the books (Lidge, Romero, Rollins, Ibanez, and likely Oswalt), they would likely have the payroll room to sign Reyes. But even if Rollins leaves, the Phillies will still have more pressing needs to fill in the outfield and bullpen to really consider making another long-term commitment to a position player. Plus, Reyes has openly stated that he loves New York, and with the money available in Flushing, it’s a smart bet that he’ll get enough of what he’s looking for to stay there.

So for everyone that’s assuming a firesale is coming, just pull up on the reins a bit and see how the rest of July pans out. And without a question, remove Reyes from the list of any trade projections, because he is now, and under further scrutiny likely will remain, a New York Met.


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