It’s about this time every year that scribes for teams across Major League Baseball start looking over their team’s various needs in order to determine what direction they take when the offseason officially gets underway a little more than a month from now. This is especially true for team’s that are out of playoff contention, like the New York Mets.
In his latest piece for the New York Post, Joel Sherman takes the Mets to task a bit, noting that the team’s public decree that their payroll will remain in the $80 to $90 million range, despite the team’s many needs. Instead, he propositions that the Mets will need to spend if they want to close the gap between their young talent, but lack of depth, and that of the much better Washington Nationals.
That’s where Sherman dropped this little nugget.
"“And if baseball ops sees a team looking to salary dump with a player it might want — perhaps Toronto’s Jose Reyes with three years at $70 million left or the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp with five years at $105 million — the Mets must be willing to make the outlay.”"
That’s an interesting assertion to make for Sherman. While we’ve heard talk about the Blue Jays and how they will take care of this business this offseason, this is the first time I can recall any talk of making Jose Reyes a possible “salary dump”. We’ve heard discussion of moving him off of shortstop, but never moving him out of Toronto altogether.
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With player options coming up for some (Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ) and the decision at hand of whether to offer Melky Cabrera a qualifying offer, this actually becomes an interesting proposition. With 3-years and $70 million remaining on his contract ($22 million a year through 2017, and another $22 million option with a $4 million buy-out for 2018) , finding a taker for Reyes becomes very intriguing indeed.
At 31-years-old and with what appears to be continued issues with his hamstrings, the Blue Jays shortstop plays a good three or four years older than his age, and that’s not a good thing. His UZR 150, which peaked at 11.5 in 2007, is at a career-low -10.8 and he’s been worth -17 defensive runs saved, as he just cannot make the routine plays at short any longer. To put it plainly, his 20th place ranking among Major League shortstopd in defensive efficiency puts him two spots behind Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is commonly regarded as having some of the worst range in the game and is set to retire after the season.
At 2.4 WAR, Reyes is enjoying a better season than his did in 2013, but that’s more likely a product of the fact that he’s done a better job of staying on the field this season. He has given the Blue Jays what they wanted from a lead-off hitter, setting the table rather nicely this season with a .280/.325/.397 slashline in 2014. However, that .397 slugging mark is his lowest since Reyes broke into the league in 2005.
That all said, the Blue Jays don’t seem to have any immediate desire to part ways with Reyes, at least in the coming season. Yes, saving $22 million will certainly be a huge boon, especially if it were to also bring back a worthwhile return. However, there is no immediate replacement for Reyes at short either and the free agent class of Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and J.J. Hardy screams of more guys that will likely be moved off the position sooner than later themselves.
At the end of the day, it looks like right now the Blue Jays need Jose Reyes as much as Jose Reyes needs the Blue Jays, at least in the immediate future. That likely means there won’t be any salary dump involving Reyes in next year or two.