The New York Mets picked up Jose Reyes’ $11 million option this winter on a four-year contract they awarded to one of the best young players in the game in 2006. Due to a nagging hamstring injury in 2009, and a thyroid condition in 2010, the success of that contract has been a mixed bag, yet regardless of how the 27-year-old plays this season the Mets will have to make a decision on his future based primarily on the direction of the team, not his output. Given the financial black hole the Mets find themselves in, that likely means rebuilding.
This makes Reyes a serious potential trade candidate and/or top of the line free-agent for this winter. When healthy his value is unquestionable as he can hit for average, be a huge threat on the base paths, provide solid defense, and actually hit for some surprising pop.
The Nationals have named 25-year-old Ian Desmond their shortstop of the future, yet nearly 200 games into his Major League career there is some worry that he may not be the player Washington had hoped. Desmond is batting just .205/.253/.333 early on this season, a small sample size to be sure, especially when you consider his .250 batting average on balls in play which is about 50 points below his average. Unfortunately, even if you can blame his recent hitting woes on a slump, what does that mean for his upside? In 154 games last year he hit for a .700 OPS while posting the most errors for any shortstop in nearly a decade, and sadly he has regressed from that output.
The Nationals have made no indication that they are ready to give up on Desmond yet, nor should they considering the relative youth of the season. That’s not to say though that come July or December that the club won’t be looking to make a change, especially if his defense fails to improve. If that becomes the case, Reyes could be a serious option for Washington as he would fit into their plans perfectly.
The club is looking to compete next year and upgrading from a replacement level 25 year old to an All-Star 28 year old at shortstop would certainly help them get closer to that goal. Reyes, despite his lack-luster OBP, is more of a leadoff hitter than anything the Nats currently can boast, and Reyes’ glove, while not perfect, would certainly fit into Rizzo’s plan to beef up the defense of the squad. While not all Nationals fans agree with it, manager Jim Riggleman loves to be aggressive on the base paths. Reyes, a player who stole 50-or-more bases in four straight seasons, would certainly fit that mold.
It was recently reported that the Nationals have a hefty amount of cash they’d be willing to spend on the right player or players, Reyes could just be that guy for Washington. He also likely won’t demand Jayson Werth type money unless he has a super-stellar season this year, given his last three-year output , which means the club would have wiggle room to make more moves. It will certainly be interesting to see how this one pans out for Washington.
At the rate Reyes has been playing, the Nats would certainly have to give up a lot. But I'm not sure Ian Desmond and someone like Colin Balester would do it for New York, and I especially don't see them trading him to a team within the division. If Reyes does move, and I think it would be a mistake for them to do so, I see him going to either Cincinnati or San Francisco or another contender.