Although it is not certain that José Reyes has played his last game in a Mets uniform, it seems very likely that the star shortstop will find a new home this winter.
Reyes is coming off one of the best years of his career. He hit 7 HR and 44 RBI while posting an NL-best .337 average.
Without No. 7 at shortstop, the Mets are a completely different team, a worse team. They would love nothing more than to bring back Reyes.
Unfortunately for the Amazin's, Reyes carries a high price tag. In order to retain the four-time All-Star this offseason, they will need to present him with a huge, multi-year deal.
The prospect of offering a a multi-year deal to a 28-year-old injury-prone shortstop whose game is built on speed is far from the ideal for general manager Sandy Alderson.
More importantly, the Mets are still feeling the ill effects of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Thus, they are limited financially and likely won't be able to win a bidding war with potential competitors.
So, Mets fans should prepare for José-geddon. Yes, No. 7 is likely headed out the door.
Now it's time to look to the future. Here are seven possible Reyes replacements.
With Rollins at shortstop, the Mets would see the least drop-off in terms of talent and production.
However, the Phillies are enamored with their three-time All-Star. Rollins will likely get something close to Derek Jeter's three-year, $51 million.
With the Mets pressed financially this offseason, I don't see Alderson offering Rollins a deal enticing enough to pry him away from Philadelphia--not to mention the fact that the Phillies would never let one of the franchise's most recognizable players bolt to a division rival.
Santiago showed promise early in his career in Detroit when he was awarded the Topps All-Star Rookie Shortstop in 2002.
Although he hasn't lived up to expectations, he posted a respectable .260 average last season with 5 HR and 30 RBI.
Santiago isn't the sexiest name, but he could give the Mets at least 250 quality at bats.
Furcal struggled last season in Los Angeles before being dealt to St. Louis at the trade deadline. Not known for his bat, Furcal's defense was one of the main factors in the Cardinals' miraculous late season run to the postseason.
The two-time All-Star has a $12 million option. For the Mets to seriously consider signing Furcal, it would have to be at a reduced salary.
One of the best names in Major League Baseball, Betancourt hit 13 HR and 68 RBI in 152 games with Milwaukee last season.
Although his .252 BA fails to impress, Betancourt has the ability to drive in runs. He also provides solid defense.
Milwaukee declined his $6 million option for 2012, but are reportedly interested in bringing him back at a lower salary.
Betancourt's defense would be welcomed on a Mets team whose infield defense cost it several games last season.
The 36-year-old was hampered by injury last season, only appearing in 28 games.
He has a respectable career BA of .284 with 123 HR and 658 RBI. Although he's no longer the All-Star level player that he was earlier in his career, Guillén still has at least one good season left.
He would provide valuable tutelage for a young, inexperienced Mets infield.
Punto struggled in 2010 with Minnesota, but his .278 in 63 games with St. Louis last season.
The 34-year-old switch-hitter can play multiple infield positions, a luxury for a Mets infield with uncertainty at both shortstop and second base.
At 34, Punto obviously isn't a long-term solution. But his defense and leadership would certainly be assets.
The 22-year-old is the most likely replacement for Reyes.
The Mets' likely shortstop of the future improved immensely last season, hitting .284 while playing sound defense.
Most importantly, Tejada matured at the plate last season. He no longer looked overmatched on the majority of his at bats, as was the case in 2010.
Tejada is no José Reyes, but he has the potential to be a solid shortstop for the Mets in the foreseeable future.