Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

It is easy to recognize what losing Jose Reyes might mean to the Mets on the field: they would be without an impact leadoff hitter, steal threat and solid defensive shortstop.

I’m on record as saying the Mets won’t be able to retain him and shouldn’t get reeled in on a long-term deal. In signing Reyes long-term, the Mets are subject to the very real chance he’ll break down physically and won’t be able to duplicate last season’s walk-year production.

I still feel that way, but there is another way to interpret the potential of losing Reyes, and that is in future free-agent markets. It is something the Mets should strongly consider.

If the Mets let one of their cornerstones depart, how would free-agents in the 2012 markets and beyond interpret that decision? If the Mets cant’s hold on to one of their own, how would they treat a newcomer? And, considering the Mets’ recent history of handling injured players (Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran), what could they be thinking about Reyes the past three years, especially since it is well known Jerry Manuel rushed him back two years ago?

Players talk, believe me, and the Mets don’t have a stellar reputation among the MLB Players Association. Sure, there will be players toward the end of their careers and who have been injured that would be willing to take the Mets’ money, but any impact players will undoubtedly have second thoughts. As it is, if Reyes leaves, David Wright could be next out the door. He has more than hinted as such.

Let’s face it, the Mets can never compete with the Yankees in dollars for free agents, and they can not in terms of tradition or a winning reputation. The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran, and even at the end agent Scott Boras tried a last attempt with the Yankees. There is a belief Beltran chose the Mets because they are less in the limelight than the Yankees.

Citi Field isn’t the magnet for free-agents the team might have hoped, but we have to believe that is more to do with the Wilpon’s financial situation than anything else, including the stadium’s cavernous dimensions.

Alderson said the team wouldn’t “punt” in 2012, but it doesn’t forecast to a busy winter. And, the team is at least two years from being a legitimate contender. It could be even longer if their financial situation persists, if prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler don’t pan out. and Wright leaves. The Wilpons have gotten better news on that front, but are not in the clear. And, there are never any guarantees when it comes to prospects.

The Mets flirted with .500 this season when Reyes was healthy, and there’s reason to believe they could take a step if their pitching improved. There’s also no reason to believe the Mets will spend in that direction.

I don’t know where the Mets are going to be should Reyes leave, or where they would be if he stays and their pitching doesn’t get better. But, if he leaves and the Mets don’t throw significant money in improving that staff, the future doesn’t look good and there will be fewer mercenaries willing to help.


13 thoughts on “Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

  1. If this plays out as most believe, with the Mets cutting their budget, and going with the same starting rotation, etc., the fans should start a “Wilponzis must go boycott,” until an owner like Mark Cuban buys the team (Cuban will probably buy the Dodgers in the meantime).

    In the recent past, the Mets have drawn VERY well—sometimes better than the Yankees. There are plenty of fans in New York who will come out again, when and if ownership really builds a team with homegrown stars, rising talent, and top free agents.

  2. Good post and some interesting points. One of the things that Alderson is going to have to do is change the perception of what the Mets organization is about. If Reyes does not sign I would like to see some of that money going towards pitching. I think Alderson is going to build the pitching staff from the back to the front. Bullpen to starting pitching. The Padres did it that way and Alderson was with them.

    I read somewhere that the ability to win now is something Reyes is considering strongly. If that is the case that the Mets need to transition now to younger players. I think the offense will be fine but lets focus on the pitching.

  3. Steve S (1): They talked of changing the Mets’ culture with the hiring of Sandy Alderson as general manager, but in reality the culture starts at the top and that is defined as ownership.-JD

  4. Glen (2): Reyes has talked about going to a team with a chance to win and realistically the Mets are a long way from that status. I believe it will come down to the Giants, Brewers, Tigers and Phillies. Washington and Miami have been mentioned as possible landing sites, but I doubt Reyes will put them over the top.-JD

  5. Since the “mercenaries” referenced do it solely for the money the Mets, by definition, will be fine if they offer the most money. And if Madoff persists and they can’t then the entire discussion is moot.

    As far as “players talk” I don’t remember reading about a single player(s) the Mets targeted that didn’t come because of the training staff. But I’d love to know who you’re referring to.

    As for the “if the Mets can’t hold onto one of their own” argument . . . Is Cleveland now “undesirable” since they didn’t resign Sizemore? Tampa when they lost Crawford? Will St. Louis, Milwaukee & Texas if they don’t re-up Pujols, Fielder, & CJ Wilson? The Phils & BoSox if they bail on Rollins & Papelbon?

    Players care about money and winning. If the Mets tie for high bidder then winning comes into play. If losing Reyes costs the Mets wins then it could well impact future FA signings but if the Mets resign Reyes and clock in another 77 win season . . . they’re still likely to lose the tiebreaker.

    The premise of the post is flawed – it’s acknowledged the club most likely won’t compete WITH Reyes unless they also upgrade pitching yet it’s completely clear that the budget will not support both Reyes & an elite FA pitcher.

    Not to mention that there are arguably no blue chip FA hurlers available. I view Wilson as a front-ender but not a blue chip based on only 2 years as a starter + heavy workload + 2011 post-season performance. If you think the Mets are one Mark Buehrle away from contention then we just don’t have a common enough vernacular to find common ground.

    And finally, saying “The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran” is simply untrue. The Mets gave $137.5m to Santana in ’08, $34m to K-Rod in ’09 & $66m to Jason Bay in ’10. Santana & K-Rod were the top prizes at their respective positions those off-seasons and Bay was 2nd only to Matt Holliday. That they haven’t delivered does not reverse the fact that they were each “prime time” when signed.

    There IS a new culture in town – the old one would approach Reyes with a blank check for 7 years. The new culture is taking the long view. Yes it will be painful for another 1-2 years but it’s the only way for THIS org with THIS financial reality to succeed.

  6. I said from day one. after we got Alderson and TopCat that the wilpons need to go. we need a white/dark knight to forcefully rip the mets from their hands. and hit their lover Selig over the head with cash.

  7. I have read where there are certainly questions on each of the teams rumored to be in the market for Jose.

    It is possible that he falls back to us. I am concerned that Alderson, as you reported, did not even try to meet with Jose. That is a mistake.

    This team will go through growing pains. Most of the payroll is tied to players who do not perform. We got rid of our closer and Beltran last year. Johan is still with us and likely will not be the player he was two years ago.

    We are now waiting for our pitchers to hit the bigs. Without a good pitching staff this team will never be any good. We might be able to get a decent closer this year. We will need to upgrade our OF as we have nothing of substance there. We have to hope our injured players come back healthy.

    This team has issues and it will not be easy. We will not win next year. The best we can hope for is a 500 season. But we can also hope that the team plays with passion and determination as they did most of the season.

    If the team plays with energy and we start winning we can lure quality free agents to this team without paying double.

  8. cpins (6): Players do confer with other about FA decisions. They don’t do it as they do in the NBA, but they talk with each other. … You mentioned K-Rod and Santana and Bay, but you only touched the surface.

    K-Rod: The Mets greatly overpaid for Rodriguez, who came to NY because the Mets were really the only bidder. Rodriguez’s own team didn’t want to retain him and nobody else was a serious contender. Primarily, the Mets were bidding against themselves. Who was the competition?

    Santana: Santana was acquired in a trade, not the FA market. The Twins traded Santana to the Mets because they were the only players as the Red Sox and Yankees dropped out. When the Mets extended Santana, an argument can be made they overpaid because there was no other market for him. If Santana wanted out, then he would have taken a lesser deal.

    Bay: I wrote at the time Bay wasn’t the answer and that was proven correct. Who else wanted Bay? Nobody was willing to pay that much but the Mets. Bay’s team at the time – the Red Sox – wasn’t willing to give him that long, or as pricey, a deal. So, in essence, the Mets again bid against themselves.

    You say the Mets were willing to pay, and that is correct. But, they misjudged the market and paid to much. That’s not hindsight because I wrote as such at the time.-JD

  9. dave (8): A lot of things have to happen before the Mets will be able to attract a big ticket FA. The best one can hope for in 2012 is .500, and that’s not much of an attraction. Sure, somebody could come here if the Mets offer a ridiculous contract such as the one Washington gave Jayson Werth. He got his money, but he’s not likely to play in a playoff game with the Nationals.-JD

  10. John(8)

    I agree which is why I said they need to play with passion and win. We both agree that will not be next year. Perhaps not the year after that.

    Their minor league pitchers will have to come to Queens and contribute. By that I mean they will have to win in the double digits and go 6-8 innings consistently. We will also have to find a catcher, some OF’s and settle the infield. This is a tall order. But we have to do it. If we win. If we stop reaching for 500 and start making a serious run at the division title we will attract players. We are NY. There is the nightlife and the advertisements and the fans.

    But we have to get there first and we are a long way from home.

  11. John –

    Please stop the strawmen arguments. We agree the Mets overpaid but that’s not what I said. To repeat – you stated:

    “The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran,”

    I contend Santana, K-Rod & Bay were primetime players the Mets have signed since Beltran – nothing more nothing less.

    Yes the Mets traded for Santana but as you no doubt recall, it was contingent on them signing him to an extension within what I believe was a 48 hour window.

    Seems to me whether you classify that as a “signing” or not is merely semantics. If you really want to hang your hat on that I’m glad I’m not your hat.

  12. cpins (13): Thanks very much for your comments. I reread what you and I both wrote, and must concede you are correct. You are right on the contingency of the Santana trade, and yes, he, K-Rod and Bay were all prime time or marquee players at the time.

    Although prime time, my contention is each player was somehow flawed at the time and the Mets overpaid. There were questions concerning Rodriguez’s health and declining fastball to the point where the Angels did not offer him at the time.

    There were also issues about Bay’s defense and his health to where Boston would not give him the years he wanted.

    With Santana, the Twins’ asking price was so high the Yankees and Red Sox backed away.

    In each case, I contend the market was such that the Mets weren’t really seriously competing with anyone and consequently overpaid.

    Also, in each case, the Mets lived to regret the contract. They couldn’t wait to dump Rodriguez, Bay has been a bust, and Santana, who already missed one season, and nobody can predict his future.

    Yes, we got caught up on semantics. But, you are correct, the Mets did make high profile signings after Beltran.

    Again, thanks for your comments and presence on the blog. I always welcome what you have to say. Best, JD.

  13. If I can interject here. I think Santana does not count. As both have acknowledged it was a trade. The fact that the Mets wanted to extend him to protect their investment is irrelevant. He was not a free agent as he did not have suitors that he can choose from. His team chose for him. He was able to make a nice living for him and as a good soldier he tried. He did not like the taste of the first season and changed his approach which may have contributed to him getting injured that year.