Pending Options Spotlight: Jose Reyes

The Mets are a franchise in turmoil. Despite a lofty payroll, the team hasn’t reached the postseason since 2006. The manager and the general manager were canned following yet another disappointing season. There’s no doubt that the Mets have talented players, but for whatever reasons, be it late season collapses, injuries, or roster mismanagement, they just haven’t been able to put a playoff season together.

Naturally, that means that there’s going to be some speculation about the future of some of the Mets talented veterans, such as shortstop Jose Reyes. The Mets hold an option on Reyes for $11 million dollars this season, which, according to the New York Post, they will pick up.

In that same Post article, the Mets state that they will be working on an extension with Reyes. However, until one is announced, Reyes’s post-2011 fate will be up in the air. Reyes is a question mark now, as he has followed up three 5+ WAR seasons in 2006-2008 with a total of 3.7 WAR in 169 games in 2009-2010. Much of the missed time was from a calf injury suffered in 2009, but thyroid, back, and oblique injuries sent him to the bench on four separate occasions in 2010 as well.

Reyes didn’t play up to his normal standards in 2010, either. He put up a .282/.321/.428 line which, although above average for the league and well above average for the shortstop position, comes in at 14 points of OBP and 6 points of SLG lower than his typical season. The biggest standout in his 2010 statistics is a walk rate of only 5.1%, his lowest since 2005 and the culprit for his relatively low on-base percentage. Reyes also rated poorly by UZR (-5) and TotalZone (-4) and was graded as average by DRS. In Reyes’s three year all-star stretch, fielding was a key component of his value, as he was +19 by both UZR and DRS and even better by TZ and TZL.

With the uncertainty latent in these defensive stats, there’s still a chance that Reyes could be an above-average shortstop. However, given the injuries to both his core and a leg, it wouldn’t be a surprise if his range and mobility were decreased. His bat has never been elite by itself, either, and a sharp decrease in walk rate is worthy of concern, as it is one of the quickest offensive rates to stabilize. For Reyes, it was the sum of his total package of skills that made him an elite player for those three seasons, and the steps back in the two most important facets of the game should be worrisome for those around Queens.

The first order of business for the Mets will be to decide between Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes for their general manager position. The decision of what to do with Jose Reyes will be one of the biggest decisions for whoever wins this job in the coming year. Reyes is a tremendous talent, but with the uncertainty derived from all of his injuries, it’s hard to project him as an all-star going forward. When it comes to an extension, the Mets should be patient and extremely careful before putting all their chips in the pot.

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“but for whatever injuries” should be “but for whatever reasons”, I think.