Reyes will be one of the prized free agents this winter
The New York Mets have accepted the fact that free-agent Jose Reyes is a player they can't live without. The only problem is that other teams have seen what the newly-crowned batting champion can do all season and have realized that for themselves too.
There will be more than just one team interested in the services of the leadoff hitter, and the Mets have their financial issues.
In the beginning of the season, Mets owner Fred Wilpon quipped to a reporter about Reyes that " he thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money. He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it". This assessment may be true. Time will tell. He may not get $142 million for seven years like Crawford, but someone will pay him.
The Mets have had financial woes that are well documented. This may factor into how much they may be willing to spend in order to retain the services of their shortstop. Mets GM Sandy Alderson has stated they are looking at a payroll around $110 million or so for 2012.
He went on to say, "When you have $75 million of that tied up in four or five players, some of whom aren't playing, it's not a good situation to be in where you're trying to fill out the rest of the team and be competitive in a very difficult division."
This really tells the tale of the situation in Queens. They will be trying to make what they believe to be a competitive contract offer to Reyes, but the truth is that as time goes on other teams may get involved and outbid them. Either the Mets will raise their offer in response or go to a backup plan.
The biggest question is what teams have a good chance of entering into the sweepstakes? Several teams seem to be a good fit. From the Cardinals to the Rays to the Nationals, there are at least a dozen teams that may kick the tires on the possibility of Reyes in their lineup.
Of all of those teams, there are five that stand out to me as the ones that really will have a need for him, a desperation for him and the money to pay him far more than the Mets offer.
The Giants could be tempted to bid due to their bad offense
No. 5: San Francisco
The bidding war for Jose Reyes will involve teams that want to make a statement and an impact in the standings or teams that believe they just need one player to push them over the top. Among the teams in the latter are the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have the pitching. Until there is a new World Series winner crowned later this month, they are still the World Series champions. That title comes with a pride and a desire that makes the team want to get back there even more the following season.
This year, they were eight games out of their division. In early September, they were still a team in the wild-card hunt. They fell out midway through. That leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the players. One year removed from winning it all, they follow it up by missing the playoffs entirely the next season.
The main reason was their anemic offense. They tried to spark it by trading with the Mets for Carlos Beltran in July. Beltran went down with an injury, and the team fell out of contention. They need a spark, and they are not afraid to spend money.
Beltran had stated he wouldn't mind returning to the Giants with Reyes. That didn't seem like an agreeable idea to the organization, though. The question is whether or not they will consider offering the big contract that blows the Mets out of the water. Early indications say no, but desperation could set in and change that rather quickly.
The lackluster offense and the small window of opportunity they have to win and win now, may make them willing to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble on the health of Jose Reyes for a large contract with multiple years added to it.
The Angels could be a dark horse for Reyes
No. 4: Los Angeles Angels
The Angels were a good team that fell short. The emergence of the red-hot and unstoppable Texas Rangers in their division have trumped the success story that once existed in Los Angeles.
The Angels finished 10 games over the .500 mark and still ended up finishing in second place to Texas by 10 games. They have good pitching and good defense.
The offense, however, finished toward the middle of the pack in nearly every category and 21st in on-base percentage. They have been in desperate need of a pure leadoff man since Chone Figgans left a few years ago.
They are ready to look for help in this area. Who better than a batting champion in that leadoff spot? Jose Reyes plays their style of baseball. He is an energetic player that works hard. The team previously realized this in July when they offered Erick Aybar in a straight up trade for him and pay the remainder of his salary.
If they were willing to do that then, how much more would they consider it now? They don't have to give up any of their major league players for him either. All they have to do is pay him.
They were willing to pay $9 million for a two-month rental. They may seriously consider that five or six times for an entire season.
Ryan Braun's comments this week sparked eyebrow raising
No. 3: Milwaukee
Jose Reyes had major competition for the batting title this season. It came from a man who may be the MVP—Ryan Braun. This same player became an unlikely source of intriguing comments this week regarding Reyes.
He stated during an interview with the New York Post that teammate Prince Fielder likely will not be back, but that Reyes has a better chance of signing with his Brewers.
Braun tried to recruit Reyes at the All-Star break and even texted him a congratulatory message when Reyes won the batting crown. The sales pitch from Braun caused rumblings of trade rumors in July that linked the Brewers with Reyes, as well.
The move makes sense though. The Brewers are a good team. They are in the playoffs for the second time in five years. They have solid pitching and a good offense. The offseason will bring questions for them, though.
If they fail to re-sign Fielder, they will have plenty of money and a need to add a spark to the offense. They may choose to sign a cheaper option for first base and steal Reyes with the money they would have used on Fielder.
The Phillies will have several questions this off season
No. 2: Philadelphia
The Phillies have been the class of the N.L. East for the past five years. That is due, in part, to the contributions of two players—Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Both have won MVP awards and both are potentially not going to be playing in Philly next year. Rollins is a free agent.
He has repeatedly said he would like to come back to the Phillies, but it is in their hands. The truth is, he is not getting younger, and he is not playing nearly up to his MVP season of 2007. He hasn't for a while. He has not had a batting AVG above .270 since 2008 and since 2007; he had only scored 100 runs once.
He has focused more on power numbers in that ball park. He is five years older than Reyes and beginning to show it. The Phillies may be looking for the upgrade at the shortstop position. They have a small window of winning as their core of Aces are getting older.
There is one thing that may certainly factor into the decision to pursue Reyes. Mets fans all cheered a few days ago when they saw Ryan Howard go down after making the last out (admit it, you did). He may be lost for the entire season next year.
They will need the offense. They may be looking for John Mayberry Jr. to stay in the majors next year and convert him to first, like the Mets did with Nick Evans to replace Ike Davis. Then, add that offense with Reyes in that stadium and they can make up for the loss of Ryan Howard to some degree.
The point is that they will be looking for a contingency plan. They will seek out all options, and they don't care about their payroll at this time.That will be one very realistic and extremely viable option.
Boston may be looking to make a statement
No. 1: Boston
The Red Sox had an epic collapse a few weeks ago. They dropped a double-digit lead in the Wild Card to the Tampa Bay Rays and were eliminated on the final day of the regular season. They made everyone forget about the 2007 Mets.
Many in that area have called it the new Boston Massacre. It has led to some changes already. They have fired manager Terry Francona, and there may be some more heads that roll as a result of the implosion.
They are still in the highly-competitive A.L. East, however. That means one thing—they have to spend money to keep pace. The Yankees will certainly fill their rotation out in the offseason. The Rays will add some offense to aid Longoria in the middle of the lineup. Even Toronto and Baltimore will be trying to do something to get back into the mix. The Red Sox will have to fill the huge needs they have.
Among those voids is the one up the middle. They have platooned at short stop and the choice for the future of that position, Jose Iglesias, has not panned out. With the fans looking for the team to make a statement and the team desperate to put their collapse out of the collective memories of those that pay to watch their team, this is a possible scenario.
They have been burned by Carl Crawford. This is the team that blew the market away last year for the chance to win it all. They failed. They will be looking to reload, and they may be ready to spend almost as much as they did last offseason.
That desperation leads to big contracts. Last season, we saw several examples of that in free agency. This upcoming free agency could prove to be just as interesting. The Red Sox have shown in the past that they are willing to spend. Will they this coming offseason in the wake of their enormous collapse?
That is the only question that stands between the Red Sox and Jose Reyes landing in Boston. If the answer is "no" then he may fall into someone else's hands. There are several teams besides these five that could be in the mix initially, but these five have the greatest needs and desire to land him when this season is over.
If any of them actually do or whether he will settle for a "hometown discount" to stay in Queens will be the ultimate build up of the next few months. He will be in very high demand. Who is willing to pay the most? That's the question that we'll all have to wait to see answered.