All Mets fans are hoping the club brings back Jose Reyes for 2012 and the rest of his career. At the same time no one should feel confident about the Mets re-signing their star shortstop. While the Mets have some money to spend this offseason, even with the well-publicized reports of a payroll significantly lower than the 2011 version, they do not have a blank checkbook.

How high and how long will Sandy Alderson be willing to go to re-up Reyes? My opinion is that the salary will be more of a sticking point than the length of the deal. While the Mets would prefer a four or five-year deal, if Reyes stands firm on a six-year deal, I see the Mets accepting those terms. But I don’t see six years (or even four) at $20 million.

Reyes might give a slight home-team discount to the Mets if they are willing to go long term. It seems that a six-year, $100 million deal might work for both sides. Reyes made $11 million this past year, and would get a roughly $6 million raise under those terms. Plus it would more than double the amount that rival shortstop Jimmy Rollins got from the Phillies. Rollins signed a five-year deal with an option and ended up making $46.5 million over the last six seasons with Philadelphia.

However, it’s all well and good to speculate about Reyes giving a home team discount but if some team comes up with sacks of money no one should blame Reyes for refusing to leave $25 million or more on the table. Few ever imagined that Jayson Werth would command $126 million last year but that’s exactly what happened.

The bottom line is that Reyes will be one of the most attractive free agents out there and the Mets could easily get outbid.

Then the question becomes: Where do the Mets spend the money they had earmarked for Reyes on instead? The immediate reaction is pitching but there are no Cliff Lee types on the market this year, unless C.C. Sabathia opts out of his deal. The top pitcher likely to be available is C.J. Wilson. Wilson has been very good the past two seasons but do the Mets want to invest a lot of money in another LHP when they already have Johan Santana and Jonathon Niese penciled in the 2012 rotation?

It seems unlikely to me that Alderson would sink a ton of money into the free agent market for starting pitching. Center field and catcher are the next two obvious choices for the Mets to spend money. But there’s no catcher worthy of a big-money deal and the best CF option is probably Coco Crisp But the soon to be 32-year old did not have a good defensive season in 2011 and his 91 OPS+ was a shade beneath the 93 OPS+ mark turned in by Angel Pagan.

Checking the list of potential free agents compiled by Cot’s there’s just not a lot of names that jump out. There are some veteran starting pitchers – Mark Buehrle, Aaron Harang, Edwin Jackson – but do you really see Alderson giving $10 million a year or more to this type of pitcher? Buehrle has earned $15 million a year or more the past five years according to FanGraphs and is coming off a four-year, $56 million contract.

After a 14-win season in 2011, Harang will not sign for anything approaching what FanGraphs suggests his true value ($2.9 million) was this past year. Jackson’s numbers indicated he’s been worth $16.3, $15.2 and $17.0 million the past three years, during which time he made $15.55 million. He figures to look to cash in on this contract. Plus, when was the last time the Cardinals acquired someone and that person turned around after performing well and left St. Louis? I’m sure it has happened but it also seems like we hear about the Matt Holliday or Jake Westbrook or Lance Berkman types a whole lot more with St. Louis than just about any other city.

Last year, the fans were disappointed but not to an extreme extent when the Mets did not dip heavily into the free agent market. But if they lose Reyes and don’t bring anyone on bigger than, say Chris Capuano, it’s hard to imagine them not getting killed in the press and on talk radio. Generally, I don’t see Alderson being swayed too much by that type of thing, but when attendance dropped this past season by an average of nearly 2,300 per game, one figures ownership will want to appear to be doing something to reverse that trend.

Could it be that Reyes’ departure might be the ticket back in town for Carlos Beltran?

Mets fans finally embraced Beltran this season and it’s not a coincidence that the team played just .423 ball (25-34) after he was traded. And what might have flied under the radar some since the Giants did not advance to the playoffs is how well Beltran played in San Francisco. After getting off to a slow start with the Giants, which included a stint on the DL, Beltran was outstanding in September. In the final month of the season, Beltran put up a .378/.434/.700 line in 99 PA.

For the season, Beltran had a .910 OPS and FanGraphs pegged his season as being worth $21.1 million. It’s unclear how many teams will be interested in Beltran this offseason but there were quite a few looking to add him as a rental during the year. It would be surprising if the Giants did not make a big play to retain him for next season and beyond.

But the offseason is the time for wishcasting and it’s still fun for me to figure out a way for Beltran to return. Of course the issue would be where he would play for the 2012 Mets? Lucas Duda appears penciled in as the team’s right fielder but it’s no secret that Duda is stretched defensively in right. Can Beltran still play CF? It’s scary to think of a defensive alignment where Jason Bay is the best fielder but it’s fun to think what the team’s lineup could be:


Defense is important but we saw the Cardinals move Lance Berkman to the outfield and make the playoffs. We saw the Brewers essentially punt defense this past season and they make the playoffs, too. There’s not just one blueprint to success.

While it’s fun to think about, I believe the chances of the Mets re-signing Beltran to be in single digits, maybe five percent. But even if it’s not Beltran, the Mets need to have a contingency plan for if Reyes moves on to greener pastures.

If Reyes leaves, who do you think the Mets turn their attention to on the free agency market?

10 comments on “Where do Mets spend money if Jose Reyes leaves?

  • Art

    METS have to many “braindead” players on their team,,,Pagan,Murphy,Pelfrey,Thole,Duda…they have no baseball instincts…Reyes will walk, Santana is done,,,Wright cant hit a fastball,,,Wilpon wont pay…Mets are done for many years unless they wake up in the draft and start realizing u cant win without yr kids!!

    • robert

      get rid of reyes and sign prince fielder

      • robert

        Tejada ss
        Murphy 2nd
        Wright 3b
        Davis cf
        Duda rf
        Bay lf
        Thole prince fielder 1b

  • 86mets

    Beltran will NOT come back to the Mets if they let Reyes walk. He’s already indicated that he’s willing to re-sign in SF, IF they add some more offense. Why, if Reyes walks, would Beltran be willing to come back to the Mets? Because they MIGHT get Ike Davis back (no sure thing with these doctors) and Wright and Bay MIGHT benefit from the fences getting moved in? Thinking he’d come back for those reasons is as risky as putting your life savings in an investment on Wall Street these days: it might pay off, but likely will not.

    As for being able to bring back Reyes, they certainly can and should. But not at all costs. I will agree with Alderson that there has to be a break poing in negotiations which should be considered TOO much or TOO long a time. Let’s say Jose wants 5 years @ $20 mil per. That might be more doable than, say, 7 years $142 mil (Carl Crawford money). I’m guessing the Mets cutoff point is 5 years in length or $20 million per year, so if he insists on 6/120 or 5/130 (hypothetically) then it’s likely sayonara Jose, thanks for the memories. While that would hurt from a sentimental standpoint as a Mets fan, logically it makes sense to invest that money in other areas that are in serious need of reinforcement (i.e., the bullpen, rotation, second base, catcher, centerfield). While it would be painful to watch in the short term, in the long run the Mets would be better off.

    But I am clinging to the hope that they and Reyes can come to terms and keep him in Flushing for the next 5 to 6 years. Which would take him well into and past his prime after which losing him would not be nearly as painful as it might be now.

  • Metsense

    Why does the spending have to be on free agents? If Jose doesn’t sign then earmark the money to trades where you may be trading a few minimum salary players for more established higher priced players that you now can afford. The Mets need to trade the pieces that don’t fit for others that do. They have plenty of holes to fill and quite frankly the current make up of the team is not enough to convince me that .500 is an attainable goal in 2012. Trades are needed to be made in order to improve this team.

  • Blaise

    I know many of my fellow Mets fans will not like this but the Mets should trade David Wright for a young upcoming pitcher who has already proven himself in the major leagues. They can use the money saved to pay for Reyes. Wright is not a clutch hitter. He strikes out too ofen and never moves runners over or drives them in with outs. They can play Murphy at third and they’ll get just as much production out of him as they did with wright, just in a different way. Wright also never stepped up to be a team leader.. he has no fire, he doesn’t get mad when he loses. Tejada can play second and when reyes eventually pulls a hammy, tejada moves to short and turner takes over at second while reyes rehabs.

    Another reason to trade wright… The Met’s problem this year was not scoring runs.. it was pitching… They need an ace and they need their starters to go farther more often. If Santana can come back and be a good #2, then Dickey and Niese have #3 and #4… then we have Gee, Pelfry, and whom ever else to battle it out for #5.. but we need that ace in the deal for Wright.

    Lineup: If Ike is the same as last year when he comes back and Duda can stay as productive as he was this year… then all we need is Jason Bay to return to something near where he used to be. A lineup of Reyes, Tejada, Davis, Bay, Duda, Murphy, Pagan, Thole if they all play to their displayed potential can score runs and will be very exciting to watch. Defense up the middle should be solid (if pagan returns to form) and Bay is a good LF. Murphy and Duda are not liabilities in the field just average.. and may get better. Thole is a better than avergae defensive catcher.

    One final note: aside from Bay they will all essentially be homegrown products or in the case of pagan got their real break with the Mets. But i recognize that tading wright being sucesful is contingent upon Jason Bay becoing at least some of the hitting threat he used to be… this way they cant walk around Davis.

    That team with good starting pitching can make a run at 91 wins which is usually the magic number for the wild card.

    • Wildboyz

      Sign REYES !

      Trade David Wright and Mike Pelfrey or Dillon Gee to COL for CL/SU Huston Street, and the following prospects C Wilson Rosario, 3B Prospect Nolan Arenado, OF Prospect Kyle Parker and LHP Christian Friedrich
      (COL covets Wright and SP)

      Trade Angel Pagan to CWS for LHP Jon Danks or RHP Gavin Floyd (both available)

      Trade Jason Bay to CHC for Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano FA after this season

      Trade Mike Pelfrey or Dillon Gee to MIN for CF Denard Span.

      Sign Grady Sizemore to a 1 yr / incentive-laden boom or bust deal. Put him in LF.

      Sign RP Jonathon Broxton to a 1 yr / prove-your worth deal . SU or CL

      C Josh Thole
      1B Ike Davis
      2B Ruben Tejada
      SS Jose Reyes
      3B David Murphy
      LF Grady Sizemore
      CF Denard Span
      RF Lucas Duda

      BN Nickeas C
      BN Turner 2b/3b
      BN Evans 1b/3b/OF
      BN Pridie OF
      BN Satin UT
      BN Baxter 1B/OF
      * Capt. Kirk is 1st call up to start if Sizemore gets hurt

      SP Jon Niese
      SP R.A. Dickey
      SP Jon Danks
      SP Carlos Zambrano
      SP Johan Santana

      RP Chris Capuano LH (6SP/LRP)
      RP Tim Byrdak LH
      RP Pedro Beato RH
      RP Danny Ray Hererra LH
      RP Bobby Parnell RH
      SU Jon Broxton RH
      CL Huston Street RH

    • Metsense

      I am a Wright fan but I am in total agreement that he is the only player on the team that is going to bring back a front end #2 or better starting pitcher. Also his 16M salary would be used toward that pitcher. A starting pitching upgrade and bullpen overhaul is essential if this team is going to compete above .500.

  • Rotoprofessor

    Does anyone believe that the Mets could take a run at Yu Darvish this offseason?

    • Brian Joura

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put in a bid if they lose out on Reyes but I would be surprised if they entered the top bid.

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