Last issue, I touched upon the possibility of the Mets trading Reyes, but a slew of losses to the Giants and Phillies over the course of this week have further driven the nail in the coffin for any hope of the Mets’ sparkplug sitting atop the lineup on Opening Day next year and have compelled me to write a column analyzing what the Mets could receive in return for the star-shortstop.
Reyes is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. There is no denying that Reyes possesses a special quality as a leadoff hitter and can change a game simply by being on base. He wreaks havoc on opposing pitchers’ mentality and offers a fresh face in a clubhouse dynamic. He has grown up before Mets fans’ very eyes and in many ways is the best player on the team.
When this season began, many pundits and analysts questioned whether Reyes would be able to capture the magic that once made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Injuries have always plagued Reyes, compounded with his shortened 2009 season and back-and-forth 2010 campaign did not quiet his critics.
So far this season Reyes has made those critics eat their words. Currently boasting a .325 batting average and 11 stolen bases, Reyes seems to have repossessed the qualities that made him such a valuable commodity all those years ago.
However, it is those qualities that other teams are interested in and will be even more interested in, once the July 31 trade deadline rolls around.
It is becoming evident that the Mets are in a transitional period. Their current roster consists of overpaid veterans and promising, yet raw, young talent. It is obvious that General Manager Sandy Alderson wants to begin to imprint his vision upon the current makeup of the team and it is unclear whether that vision includes No. 7 over the long term.
If Alderson does intend to trade Reyes, the market is already beginning to form. Just recently it was reported that the San Francisco Giants have had internal discussions regarding possible packages to acquire Reyes and I expect them to come calling once the summer months begin to show on the calendar.
The Giants possess some young talent that could be intriguing for the Mets to inquire about. The Giants are currently struggling to score any runs, and might be willing to send a bit more to ensure they are able to acquire a catalyst such as Reyes.
If I were Alderson, Madison Bumgarner would be a starting point for conversation. The Mets are in desperate need of a young hurler, and Bumgarner is a promising young arm in the Giants overloaded pitching staff.
The 21-year-old Bumgarner has struggled this season, going 0-5 with a 4.75 ERA so far, but showed a lot of promise last season when he had a 3.00 ERA and struck out 86 batters over the 111 innings he pitched.
The Mets would also be prudent to ask about the availability of pitching prospect Zach Wheeler. Wheeler was drafted sixth overall in ‘09 and is continuously listed in top-50 prospect lists by various analysts. The prospect could be even more valuable than Bumgarner and could be chosen as a piece to build a deal around, and if that’s the case it would send a clear message that the Mets intend to rebuild their roster.
Another slightly more intriguing trade-partner for the Mets are the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox currently have Jed Lowrie manning shortstop and I’m sure the idea of Reyes running the base paths and hitting balls off the Green Monster excites Theo Epstein and his front office.
Again, the Mets would be prudent to inquire about the Sox pitching prospects. In a perfect world, the Mets would be able to flip Reyes for someone like Clay Buchholz, but that seems too lofty a price.
More likely targets could be Daniel Bard, or a package consisting of some combination of pitching prospects Drake Britton, Chris Balcom-Miller or Michael Bowden.
The Mets posses a strong trade-chip in Reyes and could receive a substantial return if teams get desperate enough down the stretch. One thing I need to stress is if the Mets do intend to trade Reyes, they cannot afford to botch the deal. Reyes is a beloved member of the Mets community and anything less than an astronomical return for the former gold-glover would be less than enthralling for fans.