MLB Free Agents 2012: How Jose Reyes Could Become Chicago Cubs Shortstop

Bleacher ReportContributor IIINovember 21, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets looks on during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field on September 10, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Jose Reyes poses an intriguing option for the Cubs.

He seems like a natural fit with the direction the Cubs are going in—he is young, quick and talented. A left infield featuring Starlin Castro and Jose Reyes would be one of the most dynamic in baseball.

The same two would form a formidable one-two punch at the top of the batting order and would create unbelievable pressure on the basepaths.

But there are a few problems with making this move.

First, the Cubs would have to move Starlin Castro to third base. Though Castro displays a youthful sloppiness (as his 29 errors last season indicate), he is also a promising defenseman with excellent range and a penchant for dramatic plays.

Jose Reyes, on the other hand, has been slowly declining defensively over the last four years. Still, a fully healthy Reyes could be a first-rate shortstop. But this brings us to our next point—can Jose Reyes remain healthy?

There is no way around the fact that Jose Reyes is an injury-prone player. He has played less than 135 games in each of the last three seasons.

That said, he was still able to provide excellent production in the last two seasons despite missing over 25 games in each one. But Reyes' bothersome hamstrings could do more damage than missed games—they could permanently stifle his performance.

Much of Reyes' value is dependent upon his speed. He is scrappy, steals bases and hits for average. All of these aspects of his game will diminish if he does not have healthy legs.

Still, a look at Theo Epstein's history will show that he has been willing to gamble on injury-prone players. Some of these have paid off (Dustin Pedroia), while others have failed miserably (J.D. Drew, Erik Bedard). But Reyes has more upside and potential than Drew or Bedard, so look for Epstein to at least give Reyes serious consideration.

Reyes' price tag, though certainly not trifling, should also work to his favor.

If the Cubs want to sign an impact position player and spend less than $200 million, Reyes is the only option. The Miami Marlins gave Reyes a $90 million dollar offer. If the bidding stays in that range, signing Reyes will cost at least $100 million dollars less than Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.

Signing Jose Reyes is a risky move, but it could pay off in a big way.