Jose Reyes, the Mets' uber-talented but oft-injured shortstop, is in the last year of a five-year, $33.75 million contact. Last year, the shortstop hit .282 with 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 SB and 83 R and it seems like a lifetime ago that Reyes made his major league debut with the Mets -- as a 20-year-old in 2003.
Now entering his age-28 season, Reyes is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career after this season expires. And don't expect GM Sandy Alderson to delay Reyes' free agent experience.
SI.com's Jon Heyman tweeted today:
plan is for #mets to let jose reyes play whole year to show how healthy he can stay before maybe offering contract
In reality, this makes sense, but it could come back to haunt the Mets if he stays healthy and performs to his talent level. When healthy we all know Reyes is a top player at the shortstop position. But over his career, however, he's been on the 15-day DL three times and the 60-day DL twice, with numerous injuries to his legs and the latest DL stint relating to an overactive thyroid. A full season's worth of action has just been hard to come by for him.
Buster Olney even wrote in a Jan. 30 column that executives are "convinced" that the Mets' finances could spur Alderson to deal Reyes before the trading deadline. Alderson doesn't expect the financial situation to impede any kind of Reyes negotiations in the future, but at this point it's too hard not to be skeptical. The good news is that the salaries of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will all come off the books after this season.
Over the past five seasons, Reyes has been among the best players at his position, ranking fourth in Fangraphs' WAR statistic, even with the amount of time off. During his best seasons, 2006 to 2008, Reyes averaged .292 AVG, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 66 SB, and 118 R. And for that span, Reyes put up a SS-best, and ninth overall 17.3 WAR. Suffice to say that if Reyes puts up those caliber of numbers this season, he will be easily looking at a very hefty pay day.
No matter what, Reyes seems to prefer to only want to focus on baseball during the season anyway:
"I don't want to talk about any contract during the season because I want to be focused on doing my thing and help this team to win a lot of ballgames," Reyes said. "I don't want to hear about anything like that. I just want to play baseball for now."