Joel Sherman repeated his call for Jose Reyes to be traded in this column, an idea that has some merit. But it has merti in the sense that trading any single player has some merit, depending on what you get in return. Trading David Wright has merit if the Mets could get Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in return. And if Met ownership tells Sandy Alderson they don’t want to/can’t spend the money on a long-term deal for Reyes, Alderson has no choice in the matter.
What continues to confuse me is the idea that somehow, Jose Reyes should be traded regardless of the return, because having Jose Reyes around for the next 5-6 seasons is a losing proposition. The two ideas consistently floated by Sherman and others are that Reyes’ on-base percentage is too low for Alderson’s taste, and that his baseball IQ is too low in general.
Let’s take the on-base percentage first. Apparently, Reyes’ competition is Rickey Henderson, or other leadoff hitters, regardless of position. The thing is, Reyes plays shortstop, an extremely valuable defensive position. So instead of comparing him to other leadoff hitters- an artificial construct- let’s look at his value compared to his actual peers.
Among shortstops with at least 400 games since 2007, Reyes ranks sixth among the 17 shortstops in on-base percentage. The five ahead of him? Hanley Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki, Yunel Escobar and Rafael Furcal.
Now, keeping in mind that the Mets need to do more than trade Reyes- they also need to fill the shortstop position- which of these five is likely to replace Reyes? Hanley Ramirez isn’t going anywhere, clearly. Neither is Tulowitzki, much as the Mets wish he would.
Is Jeter a good bet to outproduce Reyes? Not only is he a decade older, and looks terrible this season, but even over the past four-plus seasons, Reyes outslugged him, .441 to .419 (unadjusted for park), and stole 183 bases to 74 for Jeter.
Furcal’s injury issues make Reyes’ look minor, and Yunel Escobar is a .401 slugger who stole an eighth as many bases as Reyes while fielding his position poorly.
So even if we pretend that Sandy Alderson is so consumed with on-base percentage that he doesn’t recognize the value of slugging percentage- an unlikely proposition- Reyes is arguably the best bet of this group to post a high on-base percentage at the position.
For the record, those right behind Reyes: Jason Bartlett, Edgar Renteria, Stephen Drew, Jimmy Rollins, Orlando Cabrera. Which of these players would you rather see than Reyes at shortstop over the next few seasons? The only one close for me is Drew, but keep in mind, from 2007-2011, he’s about even with Reyes in slugging (.443 to .441) while playing home games in a far better power park, and his basestealing isn’t in the same galaxy.
As for Sherman’s other bizarre point:
In addition, with Reyes’ poor at-bats with runners in scoring position, Alderson is getting a taste for Reyes’ dubious baseball IQ, which should grow into a greater factor as some of his speed dissolves with age and he has to think his way through more on-field issues.
I assume he is referring to Reyes’ 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position this year, which is pretty silly. His career OPS is .775 overall, .816 with runners in scoring position. And yes, he got caught off of first base last night, so that demonstrates his baseball IQ more than his perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts this season, despite his speed dissolving.
And that’s the other logical disconnect I don’t quite get- Reyes, with way above average speed, is going to slow down, so the Mets can’t keep him. But a shortstop without that speed isn’t going to slow down, and get slower than Reyes?
In other words, there are good reasons why teams will want Reyes going forward, and it has little to do with paying for past performance. He’s in his age-28 season, a peak performer at a position with very few of them.
If another team wants to give the Mets several pieces, including a comparable shortstop, or other significant upgrades, trading Reyes will make sense. But if not, the Mets would be wise to pay him. Getting rid of Reyes, in a vacuum, does little other than remove an elite player from the roster, and create an enormous hole to fill.