Jose Reyes might not be a Met next season.
This thought has lingered in the back of every Mets fans’ mind as the allure of an admittedly fantastic start to postseason baseball has distracted us from the inevitable question that will hit a breaking point five days after the postseason ends – when Reyes and the Mets can begin to negotiate a new contract.
The truth is, no one is really sure what direction either party will head into during negotiations. On the one side, Reyes is coming off a fantastic season, that if not derailed by injuries could have been MVP-caliber, and will demand to be paid as the run-scoring threat he clearly is. Reyes was the National League batting champ – hitting .337 while also scoring 101 runs and hitting a league leading 16 triples. Coming off his best season yet, Reyes will be looking for a major paycheck.
On the other hand, the Mets and their General Manager Sandy Alderson are working under tight financial constraints and might not be able to afford to waste their money and energy to lock Reyes up long term.
Alderson said recently the Mets will have to work quickly if they are to retain the former gold-glover. With Reyes certainly demanding a large multi-year commitment, the Mets would be adding on to the millions already invested in the likes of Jason Bay, David Wright and Johan Santana for the foreseeable future. This large chunk of the Mets estimated $110-100 million payroll does not leave much wiggle room to put together the remaining 21 slots on the roster.
The question is, which side will blink first? If they blink at all.
Admittedly, seeing Reyes in another uniform would be tough concept to come to terms with for many fans.
Reyes is arguabely the most exciting player in baseball and losing his undeniable skill and spark at the top of the lineup would be something many fans would not be used to having to endure.
For years fans have had the pleasure of being assured that Reyes would provide extra emotion that directly translated into wins – when he was healthy at least.
Over his time as a Met, Reyes has accumulated 301 stolen bases, 73 triples and led the National League in stolen bases for three straight years from 2005-07. There is no question, that when healthy, Reyes had a direct impact on how the team fared in the wins column.
Seeing Reyes leave for another team would be a devastating blow to the Mets, their fan base and morale around the clubhouse. More importantly, his departure would signify the first true piece to fall from the Omar Minaya regime and would be the first step of an Alderson-run Mets team.
Reyes signifies the type of player Minaya envisioned roaming Citi Field with the likes of Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. Speed, tools and aggression to play the game were all hallmarks of Minaya dreams. In essence his most touted players generated one thing – electricity. He was the face of the glory streak in 2006 and was the centerpiece of those dominant months and subsequent collapses in 2007 and 2008. Having Reyes depart would be the symbolic beginning of the Mets looking in a new direction.
The Mets had already began this process, in a smaller-scale fashion yesterday when the team announced that coaches Chip Hale, Ken Oberkfell among others would not be returning to the club next season – cutting even more ties to the Minaya regime. Rumors are swirling that former Phillies manger Larry Bowa or former Nationals manager Jim Riggelman could be replacing Obie as the bench coach, as both are close with manager Terry Collins and would be more in line with the philosophy Alderson is implamenting.
Losing Reyes would decimate the Mets in the short term, and while there have been signs towards the two parties being able to negotiate a contract that is satisfactory for both Reyes and the Mets, fans might have to realize that “no. 7” might not be leading off every night. It would be a tough loss to swallow, but there is a possibility Reyes’ departure brings upon a true beginning of a Mets rebuilding process.
It’s certainly a tough call. I just wonder how much of a psychological blow his departure would bring. It’s essentially a white flag for the foreseeable future….but the real question is whether the Mets are willing to accept that.
To be honest, I want Reyes back, but the idea of him being signed to a long contract frightens me. I have a feeling that whomever he ends up with, his performance will plummet when he doesn’t have to worry about a contract negotiation.