MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Teams That Should Be Vying for Jose Reyes

Michael WillhoftContributor IIINovember 6, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Teams That Should Be Vying for Jose Reyes

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    It’s unlikely the New York Mets will be able to re-sign free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes now that Reyes might not offer the Mets a hometown discount.

    Reyes clearly wants to take his talents to a playoff contender. Who can blame him?

    The ineptitude of the Mets over the past few years—most notably the consecutive late-season collapses in 2007 and 2008—is enough to drive any potential free agent away. Reyes is in the prime of his career and is looking to make the most of his abilities while he can.

    There are several teams in need of a potential franchise player like Reyes, especially since he plays at a key position. When healthy, Reyes has the talent to change a game—most MLB front office employees will tell you that signing a player of his caliber would upgrade a team both offensively and defensively.

    Reyes’ suitors know the risks inherent with signing the oft-injured shortstop, but the promise of his skills on the field will likely outweigh any misgivings a GM might have.

    Here are the teams that should be working the hardest to sign Jose Reyes this offseason because even 130 games a season from him are worth full-season money.

Miami Marlins

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    Yes, the Miami Marlins already have a phenomenal shortstop in Hanley Ramirez. And while Marlins fans would certainly be content with Ramirez at short, it’s still a possibility that the team would tender an offer to Reyes.

    Just hear me out on this one because I have a theory.

    Ramirez is coming off late-season shoulder surgery and hopes to be ready for spring training. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be ineffective in 2012, it’s something to consider, since shortstop is a very physically demanding position.

    Enter Jose Reyes.

    There’s a precedent here: the New York Yankees and the whole A-Rod/Jeter situation from a few years back. Just because Ramirez and Reyes play the same position doesn’t mean they can’t play on the same team.

    There’s no rule against asking Ramirez to move to second base, even if it’s not his natural position. Barring that possibility, Reyes might consent to playing second base in order to play alongside Ramirez.

    Could you imagine a middle infield pairing of Ramirez and Reyes? Marlins fans might actually go out to the stadium to watch them play.

    No harm in posing the question if you’re the Marlins' GM. It’s a long shot that Reyes would think of the Marlins as a serious candidate due to their win-loss record, but the Marlins won’t know if they don’t ask.

Washington Nationals

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    Labeled “up-and-coming” or “under-the-radar” in recent years, the Washington Nationals are quietly assembling the pieces of a solid MLB team.

    Adding Jose Reyes to the mix might be enough to bring the team to the forefront of baseball news next season.

    The Nats have proven that they’re willing to spend the money to bring in a big free agent (read: Jayson Werth), which automatically qualifies them for entry into the Reyes sweepstakes.

    Reyes has likely noticed the turnaround taking place in our nation’s capital, as the Nationals are a divisional rival. They've begun to climb the standings in the NL East and the buzz surrounding the team for 2012 might be enough to draw Reyes’ interest.

    And with the current lack of star power at shortstop, you can count on Washington already being interested in Reyes.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Yuniesky Betancourt is a serviceable MLB shortstop. And that’s pretty much where it ends when it comes to his accolades.

    Jose Reyes is clearly an upgrade at the position and would be an attention-grabbing signing for the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason, especially since they’re likely to lose big-name first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency.

    In order to keep the excitement level high in Milwaukee, the team might want to bring in a premier player for 2012 to minimize the fans’ dismay at losing Fielder.

    There’s also the option—however unlikely—of signing Reyes in order to keep Fielder around. Perhaps the addition of Reyes to the lineup would be enough to make Fielder reconsider testing the free-agent market.

    With a proven leadoff hitter always on base in front of him, Fielder would be able to pad his already ridiculous RBI numbers. The front office might use a potential Reyes signing as leverage during contract negotiations as they attempt to re-sign the first baseman.

San Francisco Giants

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    The San Francisco Giants are only one year removed from their World Series victory in 2010. That’s more than the New York Mets can say.

    And as far as Jose Reyes is concerned, that might be a good enough reason for him to leave New York and head for San Francisco.

    Reyes knows he’ll command serious money on the open market; it probably won’t be his primary concern when it comes time to pick a new team. What likely matters more to him is the chance to win in the playoffs.

    The Giants only have to point at the 2010 World Series banner flying high above AT&T Park.

    What makes the match even more enticing to both sides is that the Giants need Reyes’ offensive skills as much as Reyes needs to be on a winning team.

    For a team that finished 29th in the league in runs scored (570), 28th in batting average (.242), 29th in on-base percentage (.303) and 26th in slugging percentage (.368), Reyes would only help San Francisco's offensive production in 2012.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Unless the Philadelphia Phillies are content to re-sign their own free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the front office should turn its attention to the pursuit of Jose Reyes.

    By the numbers, Reyes was a more effective offensive player than Rollins last season.

    Reyes had a higher batting average (.337 to Rollins’ .268), more runs scored (101 to Rollins’ 87), more stolen bases (39 to Rollins’ 30) and fewer strikeouts (41 to Rollins’ 59) during the 2011 campaign.

    Throw in the fact that Reyes (28) is almost five years younger than Rollins (soon-to-be 33), and the decision for the Philadelphia front office almost makes itself.

    Going after Reyes should be their primary concern, with Rollins as a secondary option if things don’t work out with Reyes.

    Besides, Reyes has watched the rival Phillies go at least as far as the NLCS in three of the past four seasons—maybe he’ll be willing to give them a contract discount based on their past performance, knowing he’ll likely be part of a winning team.