On Jose Reyes’ Departure & A Potential Return


Since discussing the potential return of Jose Reyes seems to be all the rage today, I’ve decided to jump in with my thoughts on the matter.  With the Blue Jays coming off an incredibly disappointing season, there have been unsubstantiated rumblings that the team may look to deal some of their “core pieces” this off-season.

Aug 6, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes follows though on a leadoff home run in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous will deal any of his “core” guys remains to be seen.  Regardless of what ends up happening, the potential of Jose Reyes returning to the Mets makes for an interesting debate.  Before we look into the future, let’s go back to 2011.

The Mets were coming off their third straight losing season, and ownership was embroiled in the Bernard Madoff mess.  Not only was ownership in a precarious financial state due to Madoff’s scheming, they were also in the middle of  Madoff-related litigation that threatened to cripple them.  That litigation eventually led to a favorable settlement.  At the end of 2011, though, no one could’ve seen that coming.

Jose Reyes was a free agent, and while the Mets would’ve loved to bring him back, they simply didn’t have the money (or stability) to hand him a blank check.  Contrary to what many believe, the Mets didn’t let Reyes go without an offer.  By all accounts, Sandy Alderson informed Reyes’ agents that the Mets were willing to give their client a guaranteed deal worth $80 million dollars over five seasons.  That deal had an easily attainable vesting option that would’ve brought the total value of the contract to roughly $100 million if Reyes stayed healthy.

After Alderson informed Reyes’ agents how much the Mets were willing to offer, Reyes’ agents said “thanks, but no thanks.” Due to their rebuff, there was no “official” offer from the Mets to Reyes’ camp.  Many people (including Reyes himself) ran with the semantics.  It made for an ugly divorce.

At the time, I was angry with Reyes.  Not for taking the most money – which was certainly his right.  Rather, I was disgusted with the way things had gone down.  Reyes reportedly told Marlins owner David Samson that he would sign with the club if they offered one dollar more than the Mets, then bashed the Mets after he left.  I wrote an article shortly after Reyes signed with the Marlins, and stated the following:

"If you look at the ridiculously back-loaded nature of Jose Reyes’ contract, along with the fact that they didn’t grant him a no-trade clause, you’ll realize that he’s going to get traded. It’s just a matter of when. Will it be 2013, 2014, or 2015?"

I thought the Marlins would trade Reyes sometime between 2013 and 2015.  They beat those expectations, dealing him to the Blue Jays in November of 2012.  Toronto crashed and burned last season, which has put their future up in the air.  They could hold on to all of their key pieces, deal them all, or deal a few.  If they do dangle Reyes, should the Mets bite?

First, let’s look at his productivity.  Reyes, who will turn 31 next June, missed 69 games of the 2013 campaign after breaking his ankle while sliding into second base.  In the games he did play, he had a triple slash of .296/.353/.427.  In 93 games played (419 plate appearances), Reyes hit 10 homers, 20 doubles, and stole 15 bases.  The most glaring stat?  In those 419 plate appearances, Reyes didn’t hit a triple.

Aside from his injury riddled season in 2009, Reyes’ triple output from 2005 through 2012 looked like this year to year: 17, 17, 12, 19, 10, 16, 12.  In 2013? Zero.

Reyes is clearly not the same player he was when he broke in with the Mets, but he’s still one of the better offensive shortstops in the game.  With the only in-house options being Ruben Tejada and Wilfredo Tovar, the Mets could certainly use an upgrade.

Even if Reyes is diminished, he’d be a welcome sight at the top of the Mets’ lineup.  The issue?  His contract.  Reyes has four years and $82 million dollars left on the deal he signed with the Marlins prior to the 2012 season.  He’ll make $16 million in 2014, and $22 million per year from 2015 through 2017.  $22 million per year is an insane amount to pay to a shortstop who relies on his legs.  It’s even crazier to pay that amount during his age 32, 33, and 34 seasons.

Still, the thought of Reyes back in orange and blue is a tantalizing one.  It would right a wrong, and give Reyes a chance to finish what he started in Queens.

In order for the Mets to consider such a move, they Blue Jays would have to be open to one of two scenarios:

  • Scenario #1 – Toronto deals Reyes to the Mets, and treats the move as a salary dump.  In exchange for the Mets taking on Reyes’ contract, the Blue Jays accept B-level prospects in return.  All of the Mets’ upper echelon prospects (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Travis d’Arnaud, etc.) would be off limits.
  • Scenario # 2 – Toronto deals Reyes to the Mets for a package of upper echelon prospects, but eats a significant portion of Reyes’ salary.

At 30 years old, coming off an injury, and with tons of money still due, the Blue Jays can’t expect to get premium prospects back and rid themselves of Reyes’ entire contract.  It has to be an either-or.  If the Blue Jays are willing to consider one of the above scenarios, I could see the Mets being interested.  If they’re not, the Reyes to the Mets discussion should end now.

Jose Reyes was the most exciting player I’ve ever seen in a Mets uniform.  His infectious energy, incredible skills, and blinding speed made him an absolute joy to watch.  If he came back, it would be a cleansing for both himself and the fans.  However, it would have to be on the right terms – one of the scenarios outlined above.

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