No, Jose Reyes didn’t make a mistake

no-jose-reyes-didnt-make-mistake
Reyes with his new team. (Rachel Megdal)
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The Miami Marlins, free-spending winter club turned spring National League champion pick, have become summer sellers.

Wednesday morning, the Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitching prospects Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. Eovaldi profiles as a back-end starter immediately, with potential to be more; McGough is a 2011 draft pick, a reliever who could move through the system quickly.

Still, the trades of Ramirez and Choate Wednesday, following the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit on Monday, have led to suggestions that Jose Reyes would have been better off if he'd chosen to remain a New York Met last winter, rather than signing with the Marlins for six years, $106 million.

Sadly, Reyes wouldn't in fact be any better off in Flushing, and he didn't have much of a choice about leaving the team anyway.  

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Notwithstanding this season's carnage, the Marlins won't necessarily be in terrible shape going forward. If they end up dealing starter Josh Johnson, given the demand for him among contenders, their haul in talent is likely to be significant. Johnson is easily the best pitcher on the market, with Cole Hamels re-signing in Philadelphia, and is owed a reasonable $13.75 million in 2013, so any team acquiring him gets him for 1.5 years.

Assuming the Marlins follow the pattern of both the Ramirez and Sanchez deals, grabbing players who can help them in 2013, they'll have significant young talent to pair with Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton. They have low-cost options to fill out a rotation headed by Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco in Wade LeBlanc, Eovaldi and Jacob Turner. And useful major leaguers like Logan Morrison, Emilio Bonifacio, Edward Mujica and Steve Cishek are under team control, either through arbitration or, better still, pre-arbitration.

The Mets simply don't have that depth of talent at their disposal. They can retain David Wright for 2013 through his option, and hopefully will do so. Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy have all provided reasons to believe they will be around league average at first, shortstop and second base, for relatively little money. Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey will return on very favorable team deals as well.

The other contracts: Jason Bay, $16 million, Johan Santana, $25.5 million ($31 million, really, because the Mets also need to buy out his 2014 option for $5.5 million at the end of the season), and Frank Francisco, $6.5 million, don't provide the Mets with much expected value, but do assure them of having a payroll right around their 2012 mark, with no indication that ownership is in a position to increase it.

Probably just as well for Reyes that he's no longer a part of that calculation.

Apart from that, Reyes doubtlessly remembers, even if some have forgotten, that he never had a choice between staying or going. The Mets did not make him an offer when they had exclusive negotiating rights last winter; they didn't make him an offer after the Marlins made one, and the idea of an offer they floated to the media called for fewer years and less money per season than the Miami offer.

In the same week the Marlins came to an agreement to pay Jose Reyes $106 million over six years, the Mets were finalizing a $40 million bridge loan just to stay afloat. They were not a team with the means to sign Reyes; they merely played at attempting to do so to mitigate the fallout with their fan base.

Reyes can't be happy with what's happening in Miami. But he surely can't be sad about missing what's going on in Flushing, either.