Jose Reyes: Time's Right for Mets to Trade the Shortstop
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When the San Francisco Giants landed at LaGuardia airport Tuesday afternoon for their three-game series against the New York Mets, they brought with them a sweeping debate that turned red hot throughout the week that the World Champions were interested in acquiring the rights to shortstop Jose Reyes.
The Giants (15-16) are struggling to stay afloat in the National League West, trailing the surging Colorado Rockies by four and a half games in the standings. Adding a guy like Reyes to their very average lineup would make a lot of sense for them. Reyes, who is hitting .313 with a homer, 10 RBI and 11 stolen bases, is having a big season for the Mets. Finding a guy who can play shortstop and provide enough power along with the speed to steal 60 bags and leg out triples is hard to come by.
For all of the Dance Dance Revolution antics and immaturity he has shown in his seven-plus years with the Mets, New York has really had something special with Reyes.
With the type of season Reyes has had, the Mets know that he will ask for a $100 million-plus contract with incentives and guaranteed money. As everyone knows, the Mets can't even afford to pay the pretzel man, let alone an All-Star baseball player.
The Mets are in huge financial straits: $600 million in debt over cost and operations of the franchise, Citi Field and SportsNet New York, as well as the $1 billion lawsuit hanging over the Wilpons' heads from Irving Picard, the trustee from the Bernie Madoff scheme.
The Mets say just about every day that the financial mess the team is in has not and will not affect the business of baseball, but consider the fact that the team is losing money in ticket sales. Just watch a game and count the five or six people that actually show up to the stadium. The fact they haven't spent big money on free agents in over two years speaks volumes.
So the Mets have to decide and decide soon about whether to start cutting payroll and rebuild from the ground up. Reyes, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and even Johan Santana (if he returns...ever) are all marque names that teams in contention will want come July.
The Mets' financial situation has dipped this team to a new low. For years we have grown used to hearing about the Royals or Pirates trading away their top talent in early May, and now it's the Mets. But that is the expectation the Wilpons have fostered here, one of a low-budget small market franchise. That's their vision of baseball.
If the Giants are serious about Reyes, the Mets better get serious about making a deal happen. Sure, the Mets will miss Reyes, but long term, it might be the best thing for this team.
Take a look at the Indians, Royals and Marlins. All three teams are in the thick of pennant races (granted it's only May), but they are all doing it with minor league players they developed in their system. The Tampa Bay Rays went to the World Series three years ago with a team they developed on the farm. So time has a way of bearing fruits if the Mets can get some good prospects.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: The Giants have tons of pitching. Perhaps the Mets could acquire a guy like Madison Bumgarner in a deal for Reyes. Reyes is a top-five shortstop, so acquiring a young, talented starter is not out of the question. Bumgarner dazzled as a rookie last season, posting a 7-6 record with a 3.00 ERA. This year he is struggling at 0-5, but at 22, he has yet to live up to his potential.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: Believe it or not, the Indians are 21-9. That's right, the INDIANS ARE 21-9!! With the Indians in the thick of the AL Central along with another surprise team (the Royals at 17-14), it is likely that they will still be in contention come July. If the Indians feel they could use an upgrade from Asdrubal Cabrera, Reyes could be a fit. The Indians are stocked with top minor league talent from which the Mets could pick.
TAMPA BAY RAYS: The Rays would be very interesting. They need a shortstop since Reid Brignac has really struggled at the position, and adding Reyes would give the Rays a brand new leadoff hitter. When the Rays lost Carl Crawford in the offseason to the Red Sox, they lost a guy who led the team in hits and stole 47 bases last season. Reyes would give the Rays a needed shot in the arm.
Who can the Mets get for Reyes from Tampa Bay? Alex Cobb is a rising pitching prospect for the Rays. He has a 2.05 ERA in Triple-A Durham. Matt Moore has ace-like potential as a starter, even though he has a 4.00 ERA. He has a 6:41 BB:K ratio. Then of course there is Jeremy Hellickson, who is 2-2 in the majors this year with a 4.31 ERA. He has been very good, considering he's a rookie.
BOSTON RED SOX: Even though the Red Sox are under .500, it won't be long before they get back in the race. There is too much talent there. The Red Sox have been named suitors for either Beltran or Reyes in the past, and getting Reyes would really help Boston get back into the race.
The Red Sox have only 18 stolen bases as a team. Swapping Reyes for a nice prospect like Jed Lowrie, who is hitting .348 with three homers and 13 RBI, and Boston's top pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo, is a good deal for everyone. It all depends on how desperate the Sox get, but they have lots of minor league talent.
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