The Mets organization reached out to Reyes last week in an attempt to negotiate a contract extension.
His answer came yesterday: We’ll talk….later…
That’s the message shortstop Jose Reyes and his agent had for the Mets yesterday at Citifield. Reyes said he would not discuss future contracts with the Mets GM Sandy Alderson during the regular season because he didn’t want it to be a distraction.
“It is Jose’s desire to postpone any negotiations until after the season,” Alderson told reporters prior to Monday’s game against Oakland. “He wants to focus on baseball…We will respect his wishes and hopefully pick up negotiations at the end of the season.”
What does this mean for the Mets? Well, first and foremost, it means that any advantage they had in negotiating exclusively with Reyes between now and the start of free agency has been reduced by about three months.
That being said, Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg told Newsday that “The Mets will have an exclusive window at the end of the year.” Yes, but it will be a lot shorter than it appeared to be just 24 hours ago.
Reyes has made it clear in the past that he loves New York and would like to finish his career as a member of the Mets. But with the franchise’s current financial woes, can they afford to ink a player like Reyes to a long term big money contract? The specter of the $1 billion lawsuit by Madoff case Trustee Irving Picard is still hanging over the heads of ownership.
There’s also the matter of owner Fred Wilpon’s quote last month that Reyes won’t get “Carl Crawford money,” a statement Wilpon may come to regret. Now, with his MVP worthy numbers and the demand for quality shortstops by contending teams, the possibility continues to increase that if he doesn’t get a seven-year, $142 million deal like Crawford did, Reyes may come very close.
The fans are still behind Reyes. Another banner was in the stands at Citifield last night proclaiming “Don’t Trade Reyes.” The sentiment has been echoed at rallies and on local sports talk radio by Mets fans who have grown up watching and rooting for the speedy shortstop since he made his debut as a Met back in 2003.
There are many factors the Mets must consider when deciding whether or not to trade Reyes. Certainly, from a baseball standpoint, if they deal him or let him leave as a free agent, what will they get in return? Alderson obviously wants to get as much back as he can. In the short term, anybody else they bring in to play shortstop will be a step down, but what combination of prospects, draft picks and players could the Mets get for Reyes?
Money obviously also remains a big factor both short term and long term. The recent addition of David Einhorn as a minority owner certainly helps. If the lawsuit by Picard is settled or resolved in the next few months, that would also give ownership a clearer idea of where they stand budget-wise going forward.
But perhaps a bigger issue remains what message trading Reyes would send to an already frustrated fan base. A fan base that wants to know their team is committed to winning and almost unanimously wants to keep one of the team’s most productive and popular players who at 28 already has an injury history, but is also just entering the prime of his career.
What happens to Reyes will say a lot about the future of the Mets franchise. All we know now is that a contract extension isn’t in the cards until the end of the season. That is, if Reyes is still in a Mets uniform by then…