There is every reason to believe that the Mets are going to make a serious run at retaining Jose Reyes this offseason, but as free agency has proven time and again, you can never tell what’s going to happen once a player hits the open market.
Their shortstop of the future, Wilmer Flores, is a promising hitter whose defense is lacking, and he may well break in elsewhere, like second base, when he does come up.
The Mets are also making noises about shifting Ruben Tejada to short if Reyes leaves, which says something about the strength of this free-agent group.
The bad news is that there are precious few shortstops entering free agency in their prime. Excluding Reyes, the average age is an eye-opening 35 years old, which is when shortstops in particular are well on the downside of their careers, especially defensively, as they lose the range and speed that is critical to their position.
So, as an exercise in preparing for the worst, what follows is a list of the best alternative options at short should Reyes leave.