We're now two months into the 2011 season and the Jose Reyes trade rumors certainly have been flying.
The San Francisco Giants were heavily mentioned a few weeks ago. The Boston Red Sox, for their part, really have not been linked to Reyes at any point this season, however they have to be considered potential suitors alongside teams like the Yankees and the Angels.
Could the Red Sox strike a deal with the New York Mets for Jose Reyes?
Yes, they certainly could. But will they?
I have to think no.
I love Reyes' game. And the guy is having a career year. His offensive production is reminiscent of his play from four, five years ago, when the Mets were perennially contending, with infamous results, for the NL East division crown.
But I don't see Reyes working into Boston's plans for 2012 and beyond. The Red Sox still have the young Jose Iglesias penciled in at shortstop for 2012, and the recent success of Jed Lowrie gives Boston some cheap, homegrown insurance on Iglesias.
In other words, Lowrie's success in 2011 has nullified any need the Red Sox had for someone like Reyes this season. The high cost to obtain Reyes is not worth having him around for the second half as a short-term rental.
Prying Reyes from the Mets will require giving up too much talent. A trade for Reyes, like the midsummer move of any Type-A free agent in a contract year, requires the buying team putting together a package of players that the selling team thinks is superior to free agency compensation, should the player in question walk from the selling team.
The Red Sox minor league system is still in a good place, however it is a little thin after the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
That said, I explored the potential of a Red Sox' Reyes trade back in March. In between then and now, Reyes has put together a terrific first couple of months. Meanwhile the Red Sox shortstop tandem, Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro, have seen their fortunes shift in ways that portend interestingly to their trade potential as the season unfolds.
Jed Lowrie's fallen back to earth a little this month after his torrid April, but he's proving, for the first time in his career, that he can cut it as an everyday shortstop. His trade value has never been (and may never be) higher.
Marco Scutaro's lack of playing time, both due to Lowrie's success as well as injury, has decreased his trade value. However, Scutaro's shifting stock has undoubtedly piqued the interest of teams who see an opportunity to buy low on an aging yet still reliable middle infield player.
In my article about Reyes in March, I surmised the following:
If I had a crystal ball to peer into, I obviously don't see Jose Reyes sticking around in New York, but I have an even harder time seeming him in Boston... in 2012.
If the price is right, however, it would not be at all surprising to see Boston pull the trigger and bring Reyes aboard before the trade deadline for the remainder of 2011.
If the Red Sox pursue Reyes, they would presumably move Lowrie or Scutaro, either in exchange for Reyes or in a separate deal.
Would the Red Sox even go as far to trade Iglesias? Iglesias got a taste of the majors earlier this month with Scutaro out, appearing in six games. His fielding is phenomenal, put his bat needs serious work. Will he ever pan out as a half-decent hitter? Would it be best to move him now, while his stock is quite high?
As for Reyes, Boston certainly has the money to sign a shortstop of his caliber to a long-term deal, especially with J.D. Drew poised to come off the books this winter and Daisuke Matsuzaka the winter after.
However, looking at long-term potential for Dice-K and for the still struggling John Lackey, Boston GM Theo Epstein is probably much more concerned with addressing starting pitching.
The Red Sox also stand to at least offer Jonathan Papelbon a long-term deal this coming winter.
The possibility of adding Jose Reyes to a team of fine hitters and slick fielders is very salivating, however it doesn't appear to be in the cards for the Boston Red Sox. Other needs are more pressing, and Boston is hoping that, between Lowrie and Iglesias, the shortstop position is covered for 2011, 2012 and beyond.
What's more, maybe the Mets won't elect to trade Reyes after all.