Jose Reyes Trade Rumors: Why the San Francisco Giants Must Pull the Trigger

Stephen Meyer@@StephenMeyer_BRDeputy MLB EditorMay 4, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03:  Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets stands for the seventh inning stretch during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on May 3, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Jose Reyes, the speed-demon shortstop of the New York Mets organization, is not-so-secretly a free agent at the end of the 2011 season.

As a result, Reyes is the most valuable and movable asset the Mets have in rebuilding a franchise in dire need of cost-cutting in the short-term.

Tim Fortugno

Still just 27 years of age, the star shortstop will likely be demanding a contract exceeding $100 million over the next six to seven years. The Mets have to build their roster around quality pitching and team speed, but Reyes is not a fiscally realistic option for them in the interim.

Tim Fortugno

Reyes is currently hitting .325 with 11 SB (first in MLB) and 19 R—including a .377 OBP and an NL-leading 10 doubles. He’s more than proven that he can still be a superstar and a rare talent—especially at his position.

His stolen base total has taken any concerns of a reduction of his dynamism out of the equation, and though still a risk in the years to come, he clearly can still be a nightmare when healthy.

Tim Fortugno

The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, sit at 27th in MLB in runs scored with 106.

They are struggling to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard, and they are 23rd in MLB in stolen bases—preventing them from generating cheap runs with a lineup lacking many impact bats.

AT&T Park’s expansive outfield gaps lend themselves to speed, and shortstop is certainly not a position of strength for the Giants. Would Jose Reyes represent the perfect remedy for a batting order barely treading above water?

Tim Fortugno

The Giants pitching staff is going to keep many games close in the NL West and postseason (should they get there), and Reyes could make the difference is helping to squeeze across the late runs they need. The price—both in terms of players and cash—is not going to be an easy pill to swallow, but it is something San Fran needs to do to challenge for another title before having to make a tough call on Matt Cain.

Spare pieces like Miguel Tejada, Cody Ross and Mark DeRosa are going to clear about $19 million in payroll after the 2011 season—effectively replacing aging role players with Reyes’ annual salary.

The Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito disasters will then soon be nearing an end as well, which will still allow the Giants to lock up Cain and Lincecum long-term without crushing their bank accounts.

Financially, I don’t feel as though the Giants would be limiting themselves by acquiring the stud shortstop, though the loss of a young pitcher like Jonathan Sanchez would be difficult to stomach.

In the middle of another solid season in SF, Sanchez has a .202 BAA and 40 K in just 33 IP. His walk totals and mechanic inconsistencies are the only things preventing him from being a top-of-the-rotation starter. Sanchez is nearing free agency himself, however, and will be waiting to cash in with a long-term deal following the 2012 campaign. If he stays on course, he will undoubtedly be expecting an eight-figure annual salary—likely leaving for a big-market team regardless.

With young lefty Madison Bumgarner quieting whispers about his slow start—striking out 14 while allowing just 1 ER in 13 IP—the Giants still have plenty of quality arms to build around even without Sanchez.

The Mets, on the other hand, desperately need young pitching. Swapping Reyes for Sanchez would save them about $50 million in guaranteed payroll obligations.

Losing Sanchez for a rental player is not as prudent a move, so perhaps the only way the deal goes through is if Reyes agrees on extension parameters before it is consummated. Based on general analysis and the addressing of key needs, however, I feel this proposal would work very well for the long-term successes of both franchises.

Zach Wheeler—the 36th overall MLB prospect according to ESPN's Keith Law—is currently dominating High-A ball and could be ready to join the remaining “Big Three” after a few more years of mound development.

A heart of the lineup featuring Reyes, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt would form a young core of offensive talent to pair with the Giants’ immense depth in the rotation.

Will Reyes be moved by New York before the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline? In my eyes, it is as guaranteed as death and taxes. Will he ultimately end up in San Francisco as discussed (as reported by ESPN)? I have no idea, but I would put smart money in that direction over other plausible destinations.

The deadline is always an electric time in baseball’s long and sometimes slow-moving season. But Reyes landing with the World Champions would certainly shake up the National League.