Jose Reyes Free-Agent Rumors: 8 Teams in the Running To Land Him This Winter

Bryan Kalbrosky@@BryanKalbroskyCorrespondent ISeptember 15, 2011

Jose Reyes Free-Agent Rumors: 8 Teams in the Running To Land Him This Winter

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    The New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes hits free agency this offseason, and will change the MLB looking for a new team.

    As a Mets fan, the idea of losing the coveted free agent breaks my heart, but the smartest baseball fans around recognize that it might make more sense for the team in financial trouble to build for a future without Reyes. After being sacked by a Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, Mets ownership feels that they are “bleeding cash” and may not be able to sign their superstar shortstop.

    My prediction is that the public relations committee and baseball minds in New York remind management that Reyes is one of the best players in the world, and letting him go without getting anything in return would be an absolute media disaster for the team. The sporting world has a careful eye on the player, and is beyond curious as to where he will end up in the offseason.

    While we can all hope that Reyes will return to Citi Field and play for the New York Mets next season, it’s important for fans like myself to speculate as to where their shortstop could end up next year.

    Remember, these are not predictions, but options. The Mets could still be the leading candidate to sign Reyes. Still, this is something that the fans must consider.

8. Washington Nationals

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    Here’s some honest insight into my immediate reaction when I realized that the Washington Nationals were actually a strong candidate to land Reyes: I sort of enjoyed the thought.

    For a team that has been slowly building for the future over the past few MLB Amateur Drafts, the projected lineup for the 2015 Washington Nationals is straight up nasty.

    A team that features the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, Bryce Harper, also shows the bona fide premier pitcher in baseball with Stephen Strasburg. Add in catching prospects Derek Norris and Wilson Ramos, depth in the infield with Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond, young starting pitchers looking to peak like A.J. Cole and Jordan Zimmermann, and a proven star in Ryan Zimmerman.

     A young team looking to contend in a division that features a team like the Philadelphia Phillies would hope to make a divisional power play by signing Jose Reyes.

    The question with the Nationals is a matter of affordability, as the team typically stays under the radar in a small market. That being said, however, a Mets official has put the Nationals as one of the three leading teams in contention for Jose Reyes. This is a surprisingly exciting and interesting fit for the superstar shortstop, who could be playing alongside Strasburg, Zimmerman, Harper, Rendon and Norris at the peak of his career.

    My opinion on the matter, however, is that it’s highly unlikely for the Nationals to pay Reyes more than the Mets would be able to offer (the Mets outbid everyone to get Beltran, Bay and Santana when they targeted the three of them) and my guess is that Reyes would not wish to go to a team farther out of contention than the Mets are. This season, the Nats have the the 23rd highest payroll at $57 million, compared to the Mets that are seventh highest with $120 million. Just don’t forget that we’re talking about the same team that ridiculously overpaid Jayson Werth. Anything is possible.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “Well, I’ve felt sorry for this team for years as they’ve had trouble putting up any success, and this would immediately help them become a serious contender. This would be an awesome move, except they’re in our division and no way in hell would I be comfortable with my own identity if I had to see him play so many times a year. Expect the entire baseball population within (estimated) 200 miles to pay for season tickets for 2012 and beyond.”

7. Cincinnati Reds

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    What started as a lighthearted joke that Brandon Phillies made when he said that “maybe he would be playing alongside Reyes” has turned into a relatively serious bid for a Reyes signing.

    In all honesty, Phillips and Reyes are two of the most charismatic, likable and athletic players in all of Major League Baseball. In terms of second base, short stop tandems, a combo of these two young superstars would likely contend as one of the best in baseball history.

    In an ideal world, a team that features the power numbers of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce would be borderline unstoppable with the help of speedsters and all-around athletes like Jose Reyes and Brandon Phillips. This team looks beyond special on paper, and would be one that I would love to create in a fantasy league or MLB The Show video game.

    But before we get too excited about an infield of Votto, Phillips and Reyes, let’s consider the Reds' payroll. 

    If we look at, we see that the Reds owe big money to some interesting players. In 2012, the Reds owe Francisco Cordero $12 million dollars, plus $7 million to Bronson Arroyo , $12 million to Brandon Phillips, $6.5 million to Scott Rolen, $5 million to Jay Bruce, $9.5 million to Joey Votto and $17 million dollars to Joey Votto in 2013.

    For a team that is only the 23rd most valuable team according to Forbes Magazine, it’s difficult to fathom that a Cincinnati market could make a serious bid at a free agent with as much baggage as Jose Reyes. There are only so many baseball fans in Cincinnati that are willing to go to the games and support the baseball franchise even as attendance rose 18 percent when the Reds won the NL Central last year.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “Meh. This is decent, and it would make the Reds a team that I would always watch if they were on television. It would break my heart, but I could see instant playoffs success.”

6. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    From a pure baseball perspective, you have to love the idea of Reyes joining the Los Angeles Angels.

    Think about Mike Scioscia capitalizing on Reyes’s speed and athletic abilities, finally playing on a team that uses him as more than just a weapon. For the Angeles, Reyes embodies the identity of Angels’ baseball. Like the Angels, he plays small ball, is great for hits, has above average production and utilizes a good mind for the game.

    Yet despite the fact that the Angels play for speed, they don’t have a strong long-term solution for a leadoff hitter. Reyes certainly offers that, and fits the Scioscia model of a defensive mind up the middle.

    The Angels are the ninth most valuable team according to Forbes, and could absolutely afford a situation in which they are able to outbid the competition as their Los Angeles market has allowed them to grow 15 percent in value in the past year.

    The Angels, who put serious bids in for Mark Teixiera and Carl Crawford in the past two years, do not wish to get outbid by a bigger team again. While they were unable to get Crawford, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that they have upped their bid and secured the rights to young superstar and premier shortstop Jose Reyes as a replacement over Erik Aybar.

    Reyes has led the league in triples three times (17 in 2005, 17 in 2006, 19 in 2008) and is leading the league once again this season with 16. His batting average is currently a league leading .331, and he has a lifetime OBP of .339. Oh and by the way, two words that might convince Reyes: Mike Trout. Did someone say Jose Reyes in Los Angeles?

    Mets Fan Reaction: “This is a really exciting move for a baseball fan, and as a baseball fan I wouldn’t turn over in my grave. He’d be in a market that adored him, and his coach would be able to properly utilize his talents.”

5. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Here’s the scoop on why the Cardinals are on this list, and then the skinny on why the Cardinals are so high on this list.

    If the Cardinals felt that they were able to afford Albert Pujols at his current price, then odds are they would have signed him by now. As we’re all aware, the Cardinals have yet to sign Albert Pujols and have gone through multiple falling out disputes between the player and the organization.

    While I’m not saying that there’s virtually no chance that Pujols signs with the Cardinals, I think it’s becoming increasingly unlikely, as it hasn’t happened yet.

    The Cardinals are currently one of only six contenders looking to add a shortstop on their roster. If Albert Pujols does not re-sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, that leaves the team with a gigantic sum of payroll as the Cardinals are currently shipping their slugger a total of $16 million a year.

    Cardinals fans, accustomed to a relevant team and exciting franchise, would need a solution that could get them excited for the MLB season.

    Would there be a single more exciting solution for fixing their shortstop issue than the Cardinals?

    Mets Fan Reaction: “I don’t mind this one, as he’s out of our division and could help rejuvenate a storied MLB franchise that could have plummeted to their demise without his help. Best of luck, Reyes.”

4. Philadelphia Phillies

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    As a Mets fan, do I even want to humor this? Of course I don’t want to think about this, but if there’s one thing that the past few years has taught us, it’s that we can never count the Phillies out of anything.

    There’s likely nothing in the world that those damn Phillies fans would enjoy more than seeing the Mets lose their premier superstar and team leader to their team. While there might be bad blood between the two teams and fans currently live to hate Reyes in Philly, they understand his talents as they’ve seen him for so many years.

    Reyes could take the “if you can’t beat them, join them!” angle and sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that could build their baseball market and brand to a high potentially bigger than the Yankees and Phillies.

    They’ve already made similar power moves in the past adding the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and all of the other smaller moves in the past few years. This team is ridiculous.

    Of course, Jimmy Rollins is a free agent this year and the Phillies could quite easily choose to let Rollins sign elsewhere as they go all in on the free-agent stud in Reyes.

    For those keeping track at home, that would give the Phillies an offense as deep as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jose Reyes, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. With arguably the best pitching staff of all-time, this team would change the game of baseball.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “Yeah, it’s okay. I’ll just stick to football this season.”

3. New York Yankees

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    If the Phillies signing Reyes would cause me to become a football fan, Reyes signing in the Bronx would make me put a bullet through my head.

    How could I stick around to watch a world in which Jose Reyes, the only Mets superstar that I’ve seen in my lifetime, spurn the team that signed him as a teenager in 1999 to join their biggest rival in the sport? I’m having trouble breathing just thinking about this. Please, don’t let this happen.

    Still, as we know, the Yankees are always a force for a move like this one. Look at Alex Rodriguez. Look at C.C. Sabathia. Look at Curtis Granderson and look at Mark Teixiera. Reyes could easily join a club of players that sold their souls for the Bronx Bombers.

    I know that the Yankees have Derek Jeter, but they also had Derek Jeter when they brought in Alex Rodriguez. Now they’re looking at an aging Jeter with countless miles under his belt, and he could potentially serve as a DH for the other New York team.

    With Robinson Cano, we would easily be in store for the best middle infield of all time. I say that without flinching.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “This is the end. My only friend, the end. It hurts to set you free, but you’ll never follow me.”Jim Morrison, on the Mets fans' opinion of baseball

2. Boston Red Sox

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    Ah, a team that makes more sense than the Yankees simply stabbing Mets fans in the chest!

    Wait, did I just say that this move makes more sense? Somehow, it actually does. Despite the fact that the Red Sox already spent “Carl Crawford Money” on a player named “Carl Crawford," they could try to buy that yacht once more with Jose Reyes as they’re a team that currently has Jed Lowrie platooning a shortstop position for the team. It’s almost absurd to think of this team, however, with Reyes.

    Yet imagining Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jose Reyes, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury becomes somewhat feasible for a team that is now ranked second overall in value at $912 million. If the Red Sox don’t win the World Series this year (I don’t trust their starting pitching even kind of), then you better bet that the Red Sox will make a push for a marque free agent at the position they’re currently weak at.

    With a roster that deep on offense, they’d be able to run all over any team with three of the fastest base stealers in the game with Ellsbury, Crawford and Reyes.

    They have the money to make a bid (they’ve paid John Lackey $15.25 million, $14 million for J.D. Drew whose contract expires at the end of this season, and $10 million to Daisuke Matsuzaka).

    The Red Sox are currently worried about choking and not making the playoffs to a red hot Tampa Bay Rays squad, as they’ve dropped six of their past seven games, are 2-8 in their past 10 and are now only up four games over Tampa. If they blow it, expect Reyes to become a more serious bid.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “Oh cool. The Boston Yankees signed Jose Reyes. Great.”

1. San Francisco Giants

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    If I told you that the team that won the World Series last year by throwing three aces at the top of their game in Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, you’d believe me because “pitching wins championships.”

    In 2011, all three of those pitchers are healthy and putting up arguably elite numbers. Yet the phrase “pitching wins championships” only goes so far, as the Giants' offense is so poor that they are now 79-70 and 7.5 GB of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NL West Division lead.

    The Giants offense struck fire in the postseason last year, but this year they’ve been one of the worst in the game. They give no run support to the Giants pitching, their team batting average is the third worst in the MLB at .239 and they have the second worst team batting average in the NL. They’re also 24th in stolen bases, are the worst NL team in hits and are last overall in terms of runs scored.

    These are all areas that a player like Jose Reyes could help improve, and he could light the fire under the Giants squad to get them playing at the top of their game once again.

    Much of the speculation for the Reyes signing goes to San Francisco Giants rumors for the shortstop. The Giants have made their desire public, and after working with the Mets to trade for Carlos Beltran, they’ve got experience talking to the team.

    Beltran was Reyes’ best friend in New York, and if he returns next season, he could be a draw for Reyes. The two of them could help offensive production for a team that is now well below average.

    The stadium is perfectly built for Reyes to rack up triple after triple, and his stolen bases would be phenomenal with that team.

    The Giants are currently the No. 7 overall team according to Forbes, raised their value 16 percent last season, are in the Top 10 in TV ratings and their 2010 $230 million revenue set a team record. San Francisco also offers the sixth best television market in the nation.

    The Giants will not make the playoffs this season, and will try to make a push at another World Series next year. Reyes would be their best move.

    Mets Fan Reaction: “Do I want to see Reyes go? Of course not. But this is certainly a move that makes sense and helps add another MLB powerhouse. Reyes and Lincecum would be beautiful.”