According to ESPN.com, the Giants are seeking to upgrade their depth at shortstop, a move necessitated by Pablo Sandoval's hand injury, which has forced the team to play baseball's version of musical chairs. The Giants have moved shortstop Miguel Tejada over to third base and currently have Mike Fontenot, their utility man, playing short.
Mark DeRosa, who would normally fill the hot corner spot vacated by Sandoval, is also out with an injury.
Reyes, along with a few other high-profile, high-salaried Mets, could be on the move as the team tries to right itself financially after the team was struck by the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. However, only Reyes makes the most sense for the defending World Champions, who are right now 14-15 and four games back of the NL West-leading Rockies.
The Giants have been terrible on offense this season, so it's a wonder that they've even won 14 games. They're second worst in the NL in runs scored and ranked fourth from the bottom in stolen bases.
Reyes, on the other hand, has had quite a resurgence this season, hitting .325 with an NL-leading 10 doubles and 11 steals. He would no doubt provide an immediate upgrade, even when Sandoval returns from his rehab stints.
The trade rumors beg the question: What would the Mets demand in exchange for Reyes, a player whose contract expires at the end of this season?
First, we have to consider what teams in similar situations have done.
Back in 2008, the Brewers sent four prospects, among them Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson and Taylor Green, to Cleveland to get CC Sabathia for the stretch run. The gamble paid off, even though Sabathia's contract expired at the end of 2008. At the time, surrendering LaPorta seemed like a steep price, although in hindsight the move looks much better. While he has developed into a nice player for the Indians, he hasn't set the world on fire like many expected him to.
The Rangers were also in a similar spot last season, needing pitching help for what turned into a run to the World Series. They sent top prospect Justin Smoak, as well as relief stud Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan and Matt Lawson, to Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.
Considering how successful both recent examples have been, that should only further entice the Giants to do what is necessary to bring Reyes to the Bay.
So what would the G-Men have to give up?
The Mets' first order of business would be to demand the Giants' top prospect, pitcher Zack Wheeler. The team's first-round pick, sixth overall, is currently pitching for the Giants' High-A affiliate. He's 2-0 in four starts with a 3.38 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. Last season, he went 3-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 21 appearances (13 starts), striking out 70 batters in 58.2 innings.
Wheeler's stuff is the best of any pitcher in the system, and he's one of the top right-handed starters in the minors. He's trade target No. 1.
And he's likely off-limits.
It certainly isn't the team's top position player prospect, Gary Brown. Brown was the team's first-rounder from last year, but since he's been with the organization less than a full year, he can't be traded.
Francisco Peguero checked in as the team's No. 4 prospect on Baseball America's preseason top 10. He's a soon-to-be 23-year-old who just cracked Double-A. On the plus side, Peguero does have potential five-tool talent. He hit .329 last year in the Cal League, rapping 19 doubles, racking up 16 triples and bashing 10 homers. He ended the year with 77 RBI and a whopping 40 steals.
Strikeouts have been a trouble spot with Peguero, which could give the Mets cause for concern. He whiffed 88 times in 2010 and walked only 18 times. Still, his tools are loud, and the Mets can use all the cheap talent they can get.
Count Peguero in.
But of course this isn't going to be a one-for-one swap. The Mets are going to want a heck of a lot more than just Peguero.
For starters, how about a replacement for Reyes?
The Giants are lucky enough to have two shortstop prospects who are talented enough to rank in their top 10. Ehire Adrianza is arguably the more talented of the two and has the higher ceiling, but Brandon Crawford is the most big-league ready, and considering the Mets don't have another talented shortstop prospect who could be big-league ready before 2013, he makes the most sense.
Crawford, 24, struggled last year, splitting time between two levels, but had a strong year in 2009, hitting .282 with 10 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals. He reached Double-A by the end of that season and played the majority of the 2010 season there as well.
He has decent potential as a big leaguer and at his best will be a guy who hits .280 with 10 homers and 50-60 RBI, playing solid defense. A player like that could tide the Mets over until they come up with a long-term solution.
So let's just make it official: Peguero and Crawford. Who else?
This is how these trades work. The team dealing the veteran demands a few close-to-big-league-ready pieces and a few long-term projects. The Orioles followed that pattern to a T a few years ago when they dealt Erik Bedard to the Mariners. They got George Sherrill and Adam Jones, two "help-now" pieces, and Chris Tillman and Tony Butler, two long-term projects.
Who among the Giants' long list of Low-A players will the Mets target?
Here are a few names for you:
Tommy Joseph, C/1B
The drafting of Joseph was met with great applause by the Giants. Not only was he one of the top high school catchers available in 2009, he's also pretty much expendable with the ascensions of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, who will occupy the positions played by Joseph, for at least the next four to seven years.
Joseph has a great bat and has gotten off to a decent start in High-A, hitting .258 with two homers and 18 RBI through 24 games. Last season, he went deep 16 times and drove in 68 runs despite hitting .236.
Kelvin Marte, LHP
Marte has quietly moved through the Giants' system since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. While he's never dazzled the socks off anyone, he's been consistent, posting solid strikeout numbers.
He's been at his best this season, his first extended tour of duty in the Cal League, posting a 0.94 ERA and three wins through five starts. His strikeout numbers have dipped (only 16 in 28.2 IP), but he's still managed to be effective, and he's only surrendered one home run in the highly offensive league.
Kendry Flores, RHP
Flores is a very promising prospect who has yet to reach full-season ball for the Giants. He wowed scouts last season in the AZL, striking out 56 batters in 55 innings and posting very high numbers on the radar gun. He's still incredibly raw and a long distance off from making his big-league debut, but he has the potential that could make him an intriguing throw-in in a deal like this.
If the Mets can't get Wheeler or Brown, these should be the guys who they should ask for: Peguero, Crawford and a combination of Joseph, Marte and Flores. That should get the deal done, assuming there aren't any big leaguers involved, and both teams would come out for the better.
The Mets would get rid of Reyes' contract, not to mention his frail body, and pick up some cheap options who could help them in a few years, hopefully when they're back to being the Mets we all used to know and love.
The Giants would get Reyes, who would hopefully help them get their offense back on track.
It's a win-win.
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