Yesterday, I wanted to distinguish between two distinct if overlapping questions: 1) Should the Mets trade Jose Reyes? and 2) Should they sign Reyes to a long-term deal? Coincidentally enough, Sandy Alderson addressed the scenario we discussed - trading Reyes, then re-signing him - with Brian Costa of the Wall Sreet Journal.
To summarize: Alderson doesn't see that scenario occurring.
Neither do I. I see the Mets trading Reyes and then not seriously pursuing him over the offseason. With the ownership in flux, and with Alderson philosophically opposed to mammoth contracts, anyway, it's most likely that Reyes hits the mother lode somewhere else.
The Mets' ownership situation is offensive. There's no way to sugarcoat that. But outside of the Mets' finances, I do think there are very logical reasons to not lock up Reyes to a ginormous, nine-figure contract. To be more precise, I reject many of the arguments I have heard why the Mets should commit to Reyes:
1. "Big-market teams keep their own core guys." Sure, big-market teams have far more leeway to do so, but that doesn't mean it's always the smart play. As we always say, high-end teams may be able to "print money," but they can't print roster spots. A bad contract can hamstring the richest team. Just ask the Yankees, who are facing potential albatross deals in A.J. Burnett, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano and seem likely to extend CC Sabathia in a dangerous fashion, as well.
2. "Who's gonna replace Reyes at shortstop?" I'm not sure that should be a particularly important question. The idea of a Reyes trade - of any trade, of course - is to strengthen the organization as a whole. If the Mets deal Reyes in return for, say, a few promising young pitchers that can help the club, then the Mets will be stronger overall. They can plug in Ruben Tejada at short. Or they can sign a different free-agent shortstop, or trade for one.
3. "The fans will bolt if the Mets don't re-sign Reyes." They pretty much already have bolted, haven't they? If the Mets are, say, 10 games out of a playoff spot on August 1, is Reyes' presence really going to make a difference as the team plays out the string? How many people will really come to a game just to see Reyes on an otherwise lousy team?
More to the point, to steal from Brian Cashman: If you make moves in order to please the fans, particularly a move of this magnitude, you're going to wind up sitting next to them. The fans will come to see a winning team. The best way to build a winning team is to have a good process in place, and the Mets have that now, at least at the baseball-operations level.
4. "There are no questions about his health." Gosh, I can't agree with that. If Reyes plays 150 games this season, then I'll be more open to it. But right now, we're looking at a 2009 in which he played only 36 games and then a 2010 in which he played 133 games.
No, 133 games isn't terrible, but you're expecting more from a player in his prime whom you're preparing to give a nine-figure contract. And his '10 wasn't as his '06 through '08 because he took a while to get going and then struggled to fend off some aches and pains.
It's ironic. I used to defend Reyes against the mass of haters among Mets fans, and now I find myself curbing their enthusiasm. It's not that I think less of Reyes than I used to. It's just that the stakes will be higher come November.
--Have a great day.