|Mets Should Trade Reyes, Beltran||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on May 18, 2011
The New York Mets may find themselves in a tough bind as this season progresses. Two of their best players, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, will be free agents after this season, and already the trade rumor mill surrounding these two players has been churning.
While both will be free agents, the implications of trading each one are quite different. Based on how the team plays over the next few weeks, chips may begin to fall in Flushing.
The likelihood that Beltran remains a Met after this season is slim to none. He's in the last year of his seven-year, $119 million deal that he signed prior to the 2005 season. Though the 34-year-old former five-tool player was very productive while healthy, his Mets career will be forever marred with his rash of injuries, especially his ailing knees.
Beltran found himself in the right place at the right time back in 2004. The Kansas City Royals knew they could not re-sign him and thus dealt him to Houston Astros well before July's trade deadline. For the final 90 games, Beltran went on a home run hitting tear that began to open the eyes of teams around the league.
He took it one step further that year during the playoffs when he clubbed eight home runs, which tied Barry Bonds for the most ever during a single postseason. Beltran, however, only had 12 games to accomplish this feat unlike Bonds who had 17.
Beltran was set to cash in during free agency, and the Mets came through. It's hard to believe that those seven years are almost over, and Beltran will be calling another city home.
After sitting the third game of every series early on, Beltran has been playing every day and producing consistently. If this pace keeps up, teams vying for Beltran's services may pull the trigger sooner on a deal. Why have a healthy, productive Beltran for only two months when a team can secure him for three months?
Though Beltran can no longer play center field, he's shown above-average range in right field and still possesses a strong throwing arm. An AL team looking to fill a hole in the outfield or DH may take a gamble with the switch-hitting former star.
Beltran should likely start packing his bags, because a deal seems extremely likely.
The Reyes situation is a different animal. Reyes is only 27 and is off to the best start of any season in his career. He is tied for the NL lead in hits, triples and doubles and leads the league in total bases. He's on pace to command a lucrative multi-year deal once his current contract expires.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said that he may be reluctant to give Reyes a deal worth upwards of $100 million due to the team's financial situation. Reyes meanwhile has said he'd love to finish his career with the Mets, but he understands that the sport is a business.
Reyes and David Wright have been the poster boys of the franchise for the better part of the last decade. Seeing this duo split up would be difficult for Mets fans to swallow, because they saw Wright and Reyes grow up before their eyes.
However, unlike Beltran, Reyes would be a hotly coveted commodity among teams vying for a postseason berth. Reyes can do anything on the baseball field, and he has shown the focus this season that has been inconsistent his first eight years.
Trading Reyes would likely net the Mets a package including another team's top prospect -- especially a pitching prospect for the Mets' sake -- and some Major League ready talent. If a team offers the Mets a deal they can't refuse, Reyes and his crazy hair will leave the birthplace of his career.
If a team trading for Reyes can work out a long-term extension, that team wouldn't mind dealing its top prospect, which would benefit the Mets. But if Reyes will only be a two-month rental player, how far would a team go to acquire him?
Regardless of the team's record in a few weeks, the Mets should only consider trading Reyes if they know they won't be able to re-sign him. In a perfect world, Reyes and the Mets would negotiate a back-loaded, three- or four-year contract, which would give the Mets some financial breathing room to put a competitive product on the field the next few seasons.
Reyes is the most dynamic leadoff hitter in the game and could be the centerpiece of the Mets roster as they try to right the ship under the new regime. While Beltran is as good as gone, the Reyes saga will be a hot debate topic among baseball analysts right up until the trade deadline, or perhaps sooner if a deal occurs.