When the off season first began, the Miami Marlins were quick to associate their name with every free agent imaginable. While the genuineness of their interest came into question when rumours of their underwhelming offer to Albert Pujols was revealed, there was no doubting their intentions when it came to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes.
After weeks of negotiating, Reyes and the Marlins have agreed on a six year contract worth $106 million. And the agreement comes days after Miami also won the bidding on 34 year old reliever Heath Bell, paying him $27 million over three years. I suppose free agent acquisitions like this are possible when your stadium is publicly funded by local tax payers.
The Reyes contract is a far fairer deal for the Marlins than the arrangement that the people of Miami have with their baseball team, and in many ways, it’s their taxes that are ultimately paying for the switch hitting shortstop.
Reyes seems to attract a lot of derision for his supposedly extended stays on the Disabled List. He missed 126 games in 2009, 29 games in 2010 and 36 games in 2011. Prior to that he missed 15 games in four years. So, while the former member of the New York Mets is only 29 years old, that 29 year old has had more plate appearances and more innings at shortstop than most players under 30.
Even if missing 30 games a year is the new normal for Reyes, getting paid just under $18 million annually will be worth it if he can put up something close to 20 wins above replacement over the length of the contract. Looking at his career since he became the Mets regular shortstop in 2005, Reyes has been worth over thirty wins above replacement according to FanGraphs. While age and and questionable health will certainly lead to a decline, it appears as though the total salary being paid out properly accounts for this.
Not a steal by any means, $106 million for the next six years of Jose Reyes is a fair deal for both team and player.
Now that the money is settled, the only question remaining is how Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins shortstop last year and best player for the last several seasons, is going to respond to not only playing second fiddle, but also being nudged from a position that he made his own.
If new manager Ozzie Guillen can make that conversation go well, he will have already paid the team back in full for the compensation they gave to the Chicago White Sox for his switch.