MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking All Potential Jose Reyes Suitors at the Deadline
If you had to choose an inanimate object to describe the New York Mets' Jose Reyes, a scissor would provide the best detail.
The shortstop is as dynamic a player as there exists in the game of baseball; slicing and dicing his way through opponents as he racks up runs for his team.
No matter how you line up against him, Reyes cuts, and cuts and cuts away until your defense is nothing more than a bunch of tattered pieces. Scissors beats paper.
In fact, baseball can often be boiled down to a game that mimics the childhood pastime of rock, paper, scissors.
The first attribute, power, can take you a lot of places. Having lots of home run hitters on your roster usually leads to a high-scoring offense that can post crooked numbers with one swing of the bat.
Power pitchers are also a valuable asset. A strikeout assures that the ball doesn't enter play, making it impossible for the opponent to score runs.
But power hitting offenses are vulnerable to lulls, and are prone to being shutout in games if the long-ball never comes. In the same token, a power pitcher who can't locate or get his pitches by hitters is going to have a difficult time leaving the game unscathed.
The second attribute, intelligence, is as useful in baseball as it is anywhere else. The batter-pitcher matchup in is among the most unique happenings in sport. It is where the team sport of baseball becomes an individual quest for success.
Hitters and pitchers often find themselves in a convoluted matchup of game theory; each attempts to guess what the other will do next.
But, as the old adage goes, baseball is a game of failure for hitters. The best among them will still fail on seven out of every ten trips to the plate. Since pitchers control the ball, trying to guess and outsmart the pitcher will only take you so far.
Speed, the third and final attribute, is an entirely different animal. For some reason, the best kind of speed seems to always beat the best kind of power or intelligence.
Speed is the single most important skill in sports because you can do so many things with it.
In baseball, hitters with elite speed can lay down drag bunts, beat out ground balls, advance on outs, steal bases and distract pitchers with the mere threat of a steal.
Elite speed also directly correlates to above average defense. Research shows that faster players tend to have better range when playing the field.
Because of the immense talent level, few professional athletes possess the fifth gear of speed that we would consider elite based on their immediate competition.
Jose Reyes has this fifth gear, and, as a result, is one of baseball's most valuable commodities.
What follows is a list of five teams, each of whom is more likely than the next to be Jose Reyes' owner by the end of the trading deadline.
5. New York Mets
The fact that I have the Mets as the first team on this list should signify to you that I think Jose Reyes will be traded before season's end. But why would a major market team be looking to deal a 27-year-old who is entering his prime and plays at one of the shallowest positions in baseball?
The simple answer: money.
Or a lack of it.
New York Mets' owner Fred Wilpon is in serious financial trouble following his alleged involvement in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Last season, the organization took out loans from several investors, including Major League Baseball, just to stay afloat. Wilpon is currently looking to sell off a 49 percent minority stake in the team.
If he can't pay off his debts, which is assumed to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the owner may lose his team altogether.
Jose Reyes is a true five-tool player who can consistently hit around .285 with 60-plus extra base hits and 60-plus steals. From 2005-2008, Reyes's stolen base totals were 65, 64, 78 and 56. His extra base hit totals in those years were 48, 66, 60 and 63.
Reyes missed time each of the past two seasons to injury. After playing just 36 games in 2009, he returned for most of 2010 (133 games) and looked fresh and healthy, hitting .282 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 11 homers and 30 steals.
Jose Reyes has been plagued by leg injuries throughout his career, however. And speed is a skill of the young, not of the aging.
With his contract expiring at the end of this season, the Mets need to decide whether or not Reyes fits into their plans for the future.
Without the money to re-sign him, and with a risk averse general management staff now at the helm, that answer is unlikely.
I'd expect the Mets to flip Reyes to whomever can offer them the best package at the deadline.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have known for some time now that they are completely in "win now" mode for 2011.
With their likely inability to re-sign slugging first baseman Prince Fielder at the conclusion of this season, their window as legitimate championship contenders is closing fast.
In addition to Fielder, the Brew Crew have a bunch of power in the lineup—NL MVP hopeful Ryan Braun, recently resigned second baseman Rickie Weeks and underrated third baseman Casey McGehee.
They also have a potentially dominant rotation with Yovani Gallardo and offseason acquisitions Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum, although the latter two will begin the season on the disabled list.
The biggest hole in this Brewers team is at the shortstop position; Yuinesky Betancourt replaced prospect Alcides Escobar in the Greinke trade.
Not only does Betancourt own a .689 career OPS, he is a liability in the field who plays terrible defense. In 2009, Fangraphs had Betancourt as being worth 1.7 wins below replacement.
His 2010 was better, if you want to call it that, as Betancourt earned .6 WAR.
Additionally, although leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez might finally breakout this season, he's inconsistent as a table-setter for Fielder and Braun.
There may be no contending team in baseball that needs Jose Reyes more than the Milwaukee Brewers.
Whether or not they have any prospects left that the Mets would want is a different story.
3. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays were among the best teams at driving runners in last season.
They led the major leagues in home runs with 257. The Red Sox were the next closest team with 211.
Their .454 slugging percentage was tops in baseball as well, this time just edging out Boston who came in at .451.
The Blue Jays' offensive philosophy is clearly to swing for the fences and see what happens. But despite leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage, the club finished just ninth in runs scored.
This stemmed from a lack of runners getting on base before the big bombs were hit. Fred Lewis and his .332 on base percentage spent much of the year in the Jays' leadoff spot.
Newly acquired leadoff man Rajai Davis doesn't fare much better, if at all, at getting on base. But once he's there, the center fielder is among the best base stealers in the game.
Rajai has swiped 91 bags over the past two seasons. Although he was caught 23 times, Davis still had a productive 79 percent success rate.
A player with his caliber of speed will be a nuisance to opposing pitchers whenever he gets on, allowing the hitters behind him to see more fastballs and hung breaking balls.
The Jays' current shortstop is Yunel Escobar, who was acquired from the Braves in exchange for Alex Gonzalez last season. Although Escobar has a lot of power potential, he's a noted prima donna and possible clubhouse cancer.
The Jays will be a lot better than people are expecting this season. The cast that returns in their lineup is poised to finish in the top ten for runs once again.
If their young pitching can piece together a solid season, they'll surely threaten Boston, Tampa or New York for the AL's wildcard spot.
Imagine adding Jose Reyes to this power driven lineup, and having him be a disturbance at the top of the order with Rajai Davis. Don't you think that would give opposing teams fits?
Wouldn't Jose Bautista see one fastball after another as pitchers try to get the ball to the plate as quickly as possible?
Jose Reyes is a power-shifting type of player. His presence in Toronto's lineup could mean a surprise playoff birth; their first since winning the 1993 World Series.
2. San Francisco Giants
By virtue of winning the 2010 World Series, the San Francisco Giants organization has made a commitment to winning; whether they like it or not.
With a study and deep starting rotation, a very good bullpen and a commitment to defense, the Giants proved that the scissor mentality is more than capable of winning during playoff baseball.
Jose Reyes would fit in perfectly.
In fact, Reyes' mentality to play the game at 100 miles per hour, at all times, would endear him to the Giants' passionate fan base.
I have always thought that Jose Reyes would be a great fit with San Francisco's club. That's probably because the Mets and the Giants likely have similar fans due to their connected roots.
The Giants will open the 2011 season with the aging Miguel Tejada at shortstop. Once Cody Ross returns from injury, Tejada will likely be the biggest weakness on this team.
General Manager Brian Sabean was able to get by last season by finding cast-off hitters to insert into his everyday lineup.
Although Tejada is just on a one-year, six-and-a-half million dollar deal, I doubt that the Giants will profit much on his acquisition. The numbers show he is clearly in the final stages his career.
With a good young core of hitters in Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval, the middle of the Giants' lineup is set for the future. What they need is a leadoff hitter, and Jose Reyes fits that billing perfectly. By default, he'd also become the best shortstop the Giants have had since moving west to San Francisco.
The Giants have surplus minor league pitching that they could deal. Sabean has been an aggressive trader in the past, and I think San Fran is a very likely landing spot for Reyes.
1. Los Angeles Angels
While I expect the cross-town Dodgers to be in the hunt for Jose Reyes's services if he makes it to free agency, I think the Angels are much more likely to make a trade for the shortstop in-season.
Don't underestimate the pull of Hispanic owner Arte Moreno either. Moreno's influence seemed vital in luring slugger Vladimir Guerrero to the West Coast following the 2003 season.
Jose Reyes has been surrounded by a bevy of Hispanic players during his time in the Mets organization. He also reportedly had a close relationship with former general manager Omar Minaya, with whom he shared Dominican roots.
Arte Moreno cares about winning. In recent memory, few teams have been as competitive on as consistent a basis as the Angels. Whatever manager Mike Scioscia is doing, it seems to be working.
Their 2011 squad features a potentially dominant pitching staff with starters Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro, and relievers Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs, Jordan Walden and Hisanori Takahashi.
They also have a run-producing, but defensive-minded lineup that should be able to win a lot of close games.
What the Angels lack is a leadoff hitter, and a face of their offense if Kendry Morales is unable to return at 100 percent.
Jose Reyes can be both of those things, and would immediately become one of the most marketable sports stars in southern California.
The Angels also have the prospects to make the deal happen. As they continue to chase the Rangers (and probably now the A's) in the AL West, Moreno might get desperate.
Look for Jose Reyes to have taken his talents to SoCal by this time next season.