Remember wayyyy back when New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon fired a shot in May, saying there is no way shortstop Jose Reyes would get Carl Crawford money — seven years, $142 million — as a free agent next offseason?
“He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it,” Wilpon said in a magazine story in The New Yorker intended to generate positive publicity, but instead backfired amid fan backlash.
Then two months ago, the owner looked like he would eat his words, as Reyes began posting MVP-caliber numbers with no hint of the leg injuries that had tormented him early in his career.
Simply put, the man looked like a force of nature. One that was getting ready to cash in a long-term, nine figure deal with a major league team in the coming off-season.
But that was then & this is now. Two trips to the disabled list for left hamstring strains later, will Wilpon be proven correct? And will Reyes’ injuries actually help the Mets retain him by suppressing outside bidding for his services?
We’ll probably know in December, when Reyes holds a news conference at Citi Field or slips on a different uniform elsewhere,but odds are this will come into play when the soon-to-be free agent is shopping himself around to teams around the league.
“This isn’t our first choice, for something to happen,” agent Peter Greenberg said. “We’re disappointed, obviously, as I know Jose is. We’re trying to look on the bright side. It’s not serious. Like Jose says, it’s part of the game, the injuries. Hopefully he’ll come back in two weeks and have six weeks to finish up strong and healthy and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Said GM Sandy Alderson: “This is definitely a setback for him and for us, but as with all players, you’ve got to accept certain aspects of their performance, their makeup, their physical characteristics and evaluate it accordingly.”
Even with injuries, do not dismiss one renegade owner/GM tandem throwing the type of money at Reyes that could blow a Mets offer — say five years — out of the water. Manager Terry Collins noted pregame there is enough uncertainty about Reyes’ future with the ballclub beyond this season that he is using the next two or three weeks to evaluate whether call-up Ruben Tejada is ready to take over the position in 2012, if required.
“I think it will have a minor impact,” a front-office executive from another club predicted about Reyes’ injuries. “Teams get crazy in free agency. And the tools, upside, positional scarcity still remain.”
“It only takes one team. And it’s hard to make the case that Carl Crawford as a left fielder had more upside than Reyes as a shortstop, especially if he wins a batting title.”
Former Mets GM Jim Duquette largely agreed.
“Boy, the way he was playing I thought there would be that team out there,” Duquette said about a Crawford-type offer. “I think this does make a team pause on that front. But, then again, I look at what he’s capable of and the position and the lack of productivity at shortstop and say, ‘Well, somebody might just do it.’ I can’t rule it out, although it can’t help but impact it a little bit.”
Reyes, for his part, was unfazed by the impact on looming bidding for his services. Alderson said he would continue to honor Reyes and Greenberg’s request not to engage in contract negotiations during the season.
“I don’t worry about that,” Reyes said. “I don’t want to get an injury. Something happens. That can happen to anybody. You run and you pull a hamstring. That’s part of the game. I don’t worry about what people think. The only thing I worry about is to try to get healthy again and try to finish the season strong.”
Greenberg added that Reyes’ hamstring injury is not that severe. The images from Reyes’ MRI will be sent to Dr. Daniel Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys‘ team physician. Cooper performed the 2009 surgery on Reyes to repair a hamstring tendon tear.
“He said it doesn’t feel as bad as the last one,” Greenberg said about his client. “I think [the disabled list] is just being prudent based on where the team is and based on their needs for bodies and everything. Otherwise, if it was a different situation, maybe he would have gone day-to-day. He’s in good spirits.”