The media saga of Jose Reyes' year with the New York Mets has persisted even before major rumors about a potential trade to the San Francisco Giants surfaced in early May. Since then, fans and sportswriters alike have debated the topic of what the Mets should do with Reyes, who is currently having an MVP-caliber season.
Some fans, most of whom are often outside of the Mets fan base, believe that the team should take advantage of Reyes' sky-high stock and swing a deal with a contending team for a top-flight pitching prospect and at least one other secondary prospect.
Their argument is that Reyes (and David Wright, to an extent) can't lead the Mets in their current iteration to a World Series title and that the team should work on building a new core. These people often suggest that Wright should be traded as well.
Others are of the mindset that Reyes is the team's best player, which he is currently proving himself to be. These people want the Mets to re-sign Reyes at any cost, suggesting that the boost in team and fan morale by retaining the franchise favorite would be worth the extra money spent to keep him in Queens.
The problem that the Mets face, of course, is money. While David Einhorn's $200 million loan has helped the Mets, the Wilpons are still mired with financial woes. Let's take a look at how the Mets can bring back Jose Reyes with a deal that is favorable to both sides.
Currently, the Mets have about $70 million dedicated to players on next year's team, with most of that money going to Johan Santana ($24M), Jason Bay ($18.13M) and Wright ($15.25M). R.A. Dickey will make a bit under $5M in 2012, and the Mets will also be going to arbitration with a few players (notably Angel Pagan and Bobby Parnell).
The most commonly-proposed figure for a Reyes free agent contract is Fred Wilpon's favorite term: Carl Crawford money. Crawford signed a seven-year, $142M deal with the Red Sox prior to 2011, featuring standard award bonuses and a base salary that increases year-to-year. All of the years on his contract are guaranteed.
A scary thought for Mets fans is the team signing Reyes to a seven-year deal and then leg injuries hampering his productivity and making the contract seem like a massive mistake. There are ways to go around this.
First and foremost, Reyes should have to earn the seventh year of his contract. Reyes' style of play is based on his legs, so health can be a clause.
For example, if Reyes plays at least a combined 300 games during the fifth and sixth years of his contract (adding up to a total of 24 games missed), then the seventh year can be earned. A different clause could suggest a minimum of 155 games played in the sixth year to earn the seventh.
When it comes to the monetary aspect of the deal, Crawford money does seem to be expected. Reyes is one of the best players in baseball and should be paid like one. A deal for six years and $125 million with a health-based vesting option for a seventh year should be enough to bring Reyes back to Queens where he can man shortstop into the late '10s.