If the Mets are to become the team hoped for them, general manager Sandy Alderson has some tough decisions to make in the coming months and years, and it begins with Jose Reyes.
And, that decision is to say good-bye to Reyes now and quit the charade.
If history is an indicator this process will get drawn out by Reyes and his agents to drive up the bidding price the Mets already know they won’t meet.
The Mets know what their price is – Alderson calls it “our choking point,’’ – and it is no where the money offered Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, players who wilted this summer under the weight of their wallets.
Unless they are counting on a hometown discount from Reyes – which won’t happen – the Mets already know their shortstop is gone. For public relations purposes Alderson won’t say so, at least not before the Mets’ exclusive negotiating window opens five days after the World Series.
But, we know it is true and Alderson is posturing. We know the Mets will offer a credible offer in comparison to Reyes’ past performance, injury history and prospect he’ll break down long before his contract expires.
We also know Reyes is in it for the money and about himself – his self-serving act of backing out of the batting race at .337 tells you what you need to know – and he will jump at somebody else’s through-the-roof offer.
San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia (assuming Jimmy Rollins leaves) will be in need of a shortstop and have the money. San Francisco and Boston, particularly, are desperate to make splashes after their disappointing seasons.
The Mets won’t compete financially with them, and can’t compete with them as far as immediate postseason prospects are concerned.
The way Reyes left the season finale was reminiscent of how LeBron James stripped off his Cleveland Cavaliers’ jersey before getting into the locker room. James was gone and the free-agent process was for show. It’s the same with Reyes and the Mets should make a take-it-or-leave-it proposal with a deadline and move on.
They don’t need to dance with Reyes; don’t need to let him hold all the cards.
Reyes can be a dynamic player when he wants to be, which he was at times during his walk year. No surprise there, is it?
Even so, Reyes missed 36 games with two stints on the disabled list. He hasn’t played a full season in the last three. In nine seasons, he’s played in at least 150 games just four times.
Reyes is a speed player, yet hasn’t stolen 50 bases in three years. He barely made an attempt when he came off the DL, and that was to stay healthy for the market. His career on-base percentage is .341, mediocre at best for a leadoff hitter with his projected production. He still strikes out more than he should, walks less than the prolific leadoff hitters, gives away too many at-bats and has lapses in the field and on the bases.
Reyes has always been more about potential than production, and you have to wonder if this year was all about the contract and he’ll regress again after he gets what he wants. Based on his history, it isn’t hard to project he’ll break down during this next contract, whether it be seven, six or five years, all which have been speculated and are all too excessive.
He should get no more than $85 million over four years, which will be denied. The Mets already have $55 million in salary commitments in 2012 to Johan Santana, David Wright and Jason Bay. Add $20 million for Reyes and you have $75 million of the Mets’ projected budget of $110 million tied into four players.
Never mind winning, you can’t compete with such an unbalanced payroll.
For all those Reyes apologists out there that say the Mets will be nothing without him, ask yourself where they are now. What have the Mets won with Reyes?
The Mets are five years removed from their last playoff appearance. They are a sub-.500 team over the last three seasons and have been below .500 in five of Reyes’ nine years with the team. Sure, he’s been injured much of those five years, but that’s not an argument for him as much as it is one that he’ll break down again.
Alderson does have some tough decisions to make, but come to think of it, keeping Reyes isn’t one of them.
It is time to say good-bye. Time to quit fooling around and start rebuilding this team for good.