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In a post last week at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith wrote about the Jays’ evolving core of players, and mentioned the name of Jose Reyes. He went as far as openly wondering about how far the Jays could choose to go to reshape their core into a group more capable of winning, and quoted Alex Anthopoulos as saying that nobody on his team has a no-trade clause.

What he didn’t do, however, was suggest that the Jays will specifically consider trading Reyes this winter, except in as much as he said that they would, in general, consider trading anybody if it made the team better. But why should that stop the New York media for pining for their shortstop back?

Here’s Mets beat writer Howard Megdal, writing for Capital New York:

It’s nearly the off-season, which means it’s time for Jose Reyes to move to a new team again. The Blue Jays, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith, will consider dealing him this winter.

I’ve written here before that he ought to be on the New York Mets. I wrote it when he was still a Met, I wrote itonce he stopped being a Met, I wrote it last year after the Marlins dealt him to the Blue Jays, and I still feel that way.

. . .

A normal team could approach this two ways: either by offering the Jays very little in talent, and agreeing to take on Reyes’ full salary, or by offering a solid prospect return, and having the Jays take on a great deal of the remaining salary.

Whether the Mets can do the former is anything but certain, given their financial constraints and need to resolve their debt situation. But if Jeff Wilpon’s words about being ready to invest meant anything, it’s hard to think of a better way than putting little more than money into dramatically improving the team’s shortstop situation while simultaneously reuniting the team with one of its most popular players, ever. There are fans, and I am among them, who would probably put up with an offseason that did little else to improve the club, simply for the chance to watch Jose Reyes every day again.

But: since Wilpon’s words haven’t meant anything for nearly five years, there’s still another way to potentially do this, and that’s be dealing starting pitching to the Jays for Reyes. A deal involving, for instance, Jon Niese, Rafael Montero and another prospect could be enticing enough to the Blue Jays to cover most of Jose Reyes’ salary.

There’s huge risk in doing this, with pitching inherently fragile. Still, the payoff, one of the best shortstops in baseball for, say, $5 million per season, is big.

Say what???

For the Mets to get Reyes at just $5-million per year in such a deal, the Jays would end up paying them $62-million, plus another $21.65-million guaranteed to Jon Niese for 2014 to 2016. In other words: in this fantasy scenario the Jays end up paying slightly more for three years of Niese (they’d hold potentially tasty $10- and $11-million options for 2017 and 2018 as well), than they would for four years of Jose Reyes.

Granted, that’s ages 27 through 29 for Niese, compared to 31 through 34 for Reyes, and with a couple prospects thrown in (no, not Syndergaard), maybe this hypothetical works a little bit better than I want to believe it does. But… uh… no, I don’t think it does. Obviously.

I mean, even if you believe that they’re bound to be similarly valuable players for the duration of their deals, there are still issues here– obvious ones, most of you are probably saying. For one, Reyes has been so coveted by Alex Anthopoulos for so long that it’s hard to see him actually looking to this route to improve his club over the winter. Meanwhile, the Jays don’t have nearly the middle infield depth to make up for his loss, as opposed to in the rotation, where Niese– who by Baseball Reference was worth less than a single win this season (1.6 by FanGraphs), and just 3.9 WAR over the three years previous (FanGraphs has him at 6.3 wins over the span)– just isn’t quite the kind of upgrade the club would be desperate enough for to make such a swap.

If the Jays had a shortstop ready to move in and a rotation that was even thinner from the three spot down, it may even make sense, strange as it may seem. Even the fact that, while it doesn’t, it can’t be immediately dismissed out of hand either, should give us some insight– if we didn’t already know from last year’s crazy price for R.A. Dickey– into just how much it will take for the club to actually get themselves anything resembling an ace. [Hint: if we seriously believe Medgal's framework is plausible-- and I'm not saying we necessarily do-- and that taking back enough salary to reduce Reyes's deal to $5-million per year gets you something in the neighbourhood of Niese, let's maybe stop right now with all the fantasy about some outrageous haul for Jose Bautista and his deal, OK?]

It also shows us just how highly regarded Jose Reyes is, and should serve to remind us how lucky we are that we get to see him play every day– or, at least, every day that he’s able to get himself onto the field. That only happened 93 times this season, which made for the second-lowest amount since his first full season back in 2005– a number that flies somewhat in the face of the “injury-prone” tag he’s often hit with. In fact, he’s played fewer than 126 games in just two of the nine seasons since thigh issues and a broken leg derailed him in 2004.

Of course, 126 ain’t 162, and the Rogers Centre turf may eventually catch up to him– especially if they keep the current, shitty, mangled rug in place while waiting for the Argos to sort their shit out– but so far so good. Plus, at least according to the eye test, Reyes appeared to be gaining range as the 2013 season went on and the ankle injury became a more distant memory, and over those 93 contests he posted a wOBA above his career average, and a league- and park-adjusted wRC+ of 114, which topped three of his previous four seasons.

Reyes is a switch hitter, though, and there could be some concern to his split as a right-handed hitter against left-handed pitching, in which this season he posted his worst numbers since 2005. However, we’re talking about a sample of just 101 plate appearances, and a guy who was generally as high quality at the plate as he always is, who didn’t miss a beat moving from the NL to the AL, and who could very possibly add to his value going forward, depending on how much the ankle injury limited him on the base paths and in the field (where, according to the metrics on both at FanGraphs, he was well below career his career norms).

It was an abysmal season for the club, but let’s not forget that, when it comes to our shortstop, the Jays are the envy of baseball. Or, at the very least, the American League. At least until Manny Machado moves to his natural position, or maybe once Xander Bogaerts really breaks out.

But still! They’re in a much better position than Megdal seems to believe. There’s just so little merit to the notion of moving him, saving no money, and acquiring a decent enough pitcher whose next 200 inning season will be his first, that it’s hard to take seriously. After getting just a taste of what he can do this season, I’m pretty sure that if the Jays are looking to move one of their core players for pitching this winter, they’re certainly going to be looking elsewhere.

Comments (76)

  1. Oh boy, I hope they take Dickey off our hands too. He is a Met through and through. If we kick in about $30 million, that should entitle us to–at least Matt Harvey’s discarded tendons, right? Right?

    [Literally his discarded tendons (tendon, whatever), anyway, I'm not making an actual trade suggestion, here.]

    • hey, why don’t we just give them our whole team, right asshole?

      • Yeah. Think of the “savings.” I can’t imagine why the Jays would kick in any money, unless they were getting something really great in return. Niese? I want to puke.

  2. Megdal of NY sounds like he’s on crack! Stoeten, I think you’re being far too cautious here. 5 mill per year of reyes and all we’d get is niese and montero? come on.. reyes’ is worth 15M per right now, at least.

    If you’re giving him up and eating taht much money, you’ll need better players/prospects in return.

    I wouldnt blink at this one

  3. Well said. Lets keep Reyes.

  4. He’s going to hit 20 triples next year to make up for the 10 he didn’t hit this year.

  5. I hope we dip into the FA market for improvements to the club. Signing a Type-A free agent makes sense, seeing as we have to protected picks. Part of the issue is will they sign here? I would give both testicles to see Cano playing second base for the Jays next season–improbable as it is. I would even give one testicle to get Infante. I know what you’re thinking, one testicle is a small price to pay. Let me assure you that my testicles are the size of two full grown granny smith apples.

    • **that’s two* protected picks** Too much beer. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Omar Inflated? Gross. And Cano is going to be a bad, bad contract one day, I’d wager.

      • garza for 5 and 75 mil?

        • I think he’ll get at least that, probably more term and maybe more dollars. Especially without draft pick compensation attached to him.

      • Hey stoeten,
        Not sure if you would have this kind of information but how does playing the infield differ from the outfield in terms of the impact of the turf? Really appreciate the great blog have been reading for years. First time I’ve ever made the shout out! Cheers! I’m drunk! #Happy thkgvng

  6. Good post Stoeten.

    The mets are delusional if the think AA will give up Reyes & pay the mets in salary relief.

    The team is trying to get into the playoffs in 2014 & they need Reyes for 125 + games.

    It was a freak injury in KC this year

  7. No fucking way they trade reyes unless he has secretely requested a trade because he cant play on turf. This is just a classic example of bored NY media trying to stir the pot.

  8. Uh, where does Nicholson-Smith say that AA will consider trading Reyes?

  9. Hypothetical scenario: if another shortstop, at worst a quality SS and at best an all-star, becomes available and can either be traded here in a deal that makes sense or wants to sign here as a free agent (NOT Kawasaki or equivalent), do you call Reyes and see if he’d be willing to move to second? It’s a total hypothetical, and I can’t even think of a shortstop to fit this description who would be available in December, but it’s just a thought that crossed my mind. I do wonder if Reyes will end up at second by the end of this deal, maybe in the final year or something. Might help prolong his legs. Just a spitballing thought I suppose.

    • I don’t know if it would help his legs– it would put him into harm’s way on double plays quite a bit, too– but it would probably help the club, if they had some kind of big upgrade, defensively, at short. Otherwise, I don’t see it– the Jays seem big into deferring to veterans on matters of position.

  10. Yeah. That’s the dumbest trade idea ever.

    Does Reyes’ contract actually give him negative value? Does Niese’s give him positive value?

    Not sure either of these is the case so why would Jays eat salary to make that deal?

    I assume the Mets would jump at a Reyes for Niese straight up swap.

  11. to the guy 2 above the shortstop who may be available is yunel escobar lol. not sure the tampa rays except the options.

  12. I doubt they’ll trade Reyes. But the turf is a big concern. We just got a new tv and I got to see the turf in all its horrible HD glory. That stuff is fried. And there are patches around the infield where the colour changes and they look like small areas of swamp. I’m assuming they look like that because they’re lying differently from the rest having been rubbed that way by the plays on the infield and so reflecting the light differently. But if that’s the case, and the turf shifts slightly with the plays, then the ball would bounce unpredictably every time. On grass you’d get tussocks and divots but they’d be constant. This stuff seems to be in constant slight shift. Must be hell to play infield on. I imagine the outfield plays better. You wouldn’t get so much traffic.

  13. No mention of Reyes’ poor (and seemingly worsening) range at SS? Over the last three seasons, only Jeter and Nunez in MLB have had a worse DRS total than his -33. UZR doesn’t show Reyes’ defense to be much better over that time either.

    It’s the kind of stuff that is going to necessitate a position change at some point if he stays in Toronto. Otherwise, you’re looking at the SS equivalent of Vernon Wells in his last few years here, except this time it will be a significant defensive liability in the infield.

  14. Can someone please win the damn World Series so we can get on with the offseason.

    The more I look at the available free agents the more I think McCann should be the guy AA takes a run at.

    Lefty power, easily the best C available, position of serious need, pretty consistent production year after year.

    I know we need pitching first and foremost, but I don’t see any FA pitchers consistent and healthy enough to warrant the money it will take. Tanaka is a wildcard though

    • Salty as a catching target?

      • Maybe. Might get the qualifying offer, which would make it harder to stomach. Kinda not great, but none of them really are.

    • If only it was as easy as that.

    • Salty. Younger, cheaper and less years. Plus I like that he is a switch hitter, although much stronger against righties, which isn’t really an issue.

    • Can’t see the Jays getting McCann but he would make all the pitchers better right away.

      • Oh I know.

        I can’t see it happening either. Especially with AAs tendency to avoid big contract FAs.

        I’ve never been in the “sign a big FA” camp. Even missing on Darvish I was OK with at the time because the commitment was so large for a guy with no MLB innings. And the team wasn’t really there with the payroll yet. Hindsight is 20/20 obviously.

        Well now we’re there. Blew the doors off the payroll last year with terrible results. Only thing to do is double down and ask for another card. If that doesn’t work cut your losses, blow the whole thing up next year and load up on prospects at the deadline.

        I think it’s the only way to keep the casual fans coming back to the ball park too. Minor adjustments to the status quo probably won’t do it, especially if we have another poor start next year.

        Good money after bad be damned. I think this is the only viable alternative.

  15. I read the article last night and thought that the writer was out to lunch. After your post and a day to mull it over, I think the writer is still out to lunch. Why trade one of your best assets, but still pay over 3/4′s of his contract to play for another season. That alone gave what he was trying to get at, nothing more than a sentimental pipe dream. If AA trades anyone from the core, as I believe Andrew said, it will be to make this a better team. In the scenarios outlined by the writer, not only do they not make sense, but they definitely don’t make their team or system any better. But hey, at least you know there’s some good pot in New York, or somebody had far to many servings of bird, and have gone a little kuu koo.

    Looking forward to a full season of Reyes and his consistent bat and better legs than last year. That makes me a whole lot more excited then anticipating watching Niese pitch in the east, which would probably induce some anxiety.

  16. *team… play for another team, not season.

  17. Got it Digital. I’m with you. The presented scenario is asinine.
    The Jays are not looking to dump salary per se which is what a trade like this would imply.i.e. we pay 24m plus trade himmfor yet another glorified No5 starter and a prospect?
    No fukin way-the guy is on luudes.
    Now, would AA trade Reyes? I think he would as his defence is at best average but he is a +++ player on offence. A Matt Cain of SF would make more sense, but , even if he did trade Reyes, who would play SS for us and let’sot be delusional in thinking either Izzy or Kawasaki can do it-they are basically -war players. Would Stephen Drew of the Bosox do the trick if the Bosox let him walk??

    • The trade suggested had the Jays taking on salary, and Niese is certainly not a glorified fifth starter.

      • Ok, I agree he is bettter than a 5 but hardly an impact arm in my opinion especially in the AL east. And..I mentioned that the Jays w/h to move 24m to the mets in the deal along with Jose so that is, in effect, picking up salary as they would then be paying for JR to play for the Mets

  18. Anyone hear Lind on the FAN tonight with Willner? Thought it interesting that he referenced 2008 and specifically Burnett/Ryan/Stairs as the best clubhouse culture in terms of how it translated to winning. Say what you will about Lind but he’s awesomely candid when it comes to interviews.

    • So he picked the year that the team won the most games since he’s been here full-time as the one where it felt like the chemistry was best. Funny that.

      • God I hate you. Great blog and all but you’re such a twat.

      • Yeah, it was like this year’s team that was “too loose” and then suddenly had a “great vibe” when they won 11 games in a row. It’s the same perception we force on it as viewers. By all accounts Ryan is an asshole. I did laugh at this exchange:
        Willner: Burnett was kind of up and down with us, the media
        Lind: He was kind of up and down with everyone

  19. Random note: the Dodgers’ pitching staff had a higher OBP than Arencibia this year.

  20. Cards interested in a CFer?

  21. I wonder what the degree of Cletus-envy is currently in St. Louis?
    Jon Jay has had a game for the ages…Strike3bia-esque.

    • Was wondering the same.
      With the TLR backstory it makes you go hmmmmm.

    • Well the St.L fans sure were patting themselves on the back the year after the trade when Jay was a .300 slap hitter and Cletus was doing a whole lot of nothing. Now that they’ve reverted to (what is hopefully) the norm, they’re pretty quiet…

      Jon Jay actually has a higher career OPS then Cletus and is a lot more consistent. But he’s 2 years older, and Rasmus’ peak is obviously much higher. Apples and oranges I guess.

  22. Would the Nats consider moving Danny Espinosa? He was awful with the bat this year but put up decentish numbers the last couple. And DRS and UZR seem to like him.
    Washington seems maybe ready to go with Rendon at 2B.

    • Sure they would.

      Nats are still win now and Espinosa is too much of a question mark for 2014.

      Problem is he’s a ? for the Jays too. If he has options he’s a great pickup. If not he may be a better fit for a team not looking to contend in 2014.

  23. The guys covering the Mets pull stuff out of their asses on a regular basis. In this article the journo thinks Bautista will be available because the team pushed the boat out too far last season and won’t have financial flexibility. The fact that Rogers is the wealthiest owner in MLB seems to be completely unknown to him. Of course Bautista may be traded. But if so it won’t be because we can’t afford him. And it won’t be for a coule of minor-league arms either…–mlb.html

    • I have this feeling that Bautista might get traded this off season. It seems like it would never happen, but I just have a hunch it could.

      Apparently, Brunt was PTS yesterday saying he’s heard rumblings…

  24. If they are thinking of trading Bautista, now would be the time. They’d get maximum return.

    • no, they would have gotten maximum return 2 years ago after his 2nd awesome season. He has been banged up the past couple of years. if he has a great year again next year after that they’d get maximum return.

      • You’re right! But his numbers have dropped in the past couple of years. The potential could still be there for another monster season. However, if he drops further next year, it’ll be a problem. If they get a really good offer for him I think they should consider it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but EE seems to me to be a more dependable hitter and he’s younger. If it came down to trading a bat I’d rather see #19 go than him.

        • Agreed
          Ee is irreplaceable

        • I agree EE was another solid player this year. Jbats is on the decline (i makes me puke in my mouth to say such things) and its though to predict if he will be healthy next year. He certainly wasn’t this year and if we wait longer and he is hurt, we’re screwed. I agree with your comments 100%

    • Wonder if the Pirates would be interested, they have enough high impact prospects to make it worth stomaching as a Jays fan, without hurting their immediate future.

      Bautista+cash for Taillion, straight up, who blinks first?

      • we’re looking to win a WS this year or next. how would prospects help this?

      • a proven power hittetr, everyday player, for an untested prospect , staraight up? Only if u were salary dumping mode. This is a stupid idea

        • I don’t think anyone suggested you couldn’t spend the tens of millions saved on Bautista on anything else, tard.

  25. One of the teams in dire need of a big bat is SF. If JB were to go, which I very much doubt, this c/b a target. They desperately need a power bat in the OF and obviously JB fits. We would want Cain I’m sure. But then, do they have enuf pitching if they dump Cain and not resign Lincecum?
    Who would replace JB’s production here, not to mention his still high OPS?
    It w/b gutsy on both parties.

  26. i can’t see how the Jays would trade one of the best hitters in baseball. enough with the Bautista trade talks please.

  27. The NY Mets media needs something to talk about. AA will likely keep Reyes and deal Bautista. Reyes was one of the most consistent ball players on the team this year.

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