If Derek Jeter wouldn't switch positions for Alex Rodriguez, he isn't likely to do so for Jose Reyes. But plenty of other teams could be in the market at the end of this year for an under-30, All-Star caliber shortstop. And one of those teams could be the Phillies.
Here's a quote from an NL East GM at the end of last season:
I think we'll probably let things, at this time, play out. There's some concern about his production the last couple of years. He's a much better player than he's played. We just have to make sure he's healthy.
Sounds like Mets GM Sandy Alderson talking about Reyes today. But it was Phillies GM Ruben Amaro talking about Jimmy Rollins, who is now entering the final year of his contract. Rollins just turned 32. Last season, he played in just 88 games, and had an OPS of only .694. In 2009, Rollins' OPS was just .719.
It's hard to imagine the Phillies replacing Rollins with a hated Met, especially Reyes. But a few years ago, it would have been even harder to imagine that the next regular Yankee centerfielder after Bernie Williams would be Red Sox "idiot" Johnny Damon.
Rollins will make $8.5 million this year. Raul Ibanez, whose contract also expires at the end of the season, makes $10.5 million. If the Phillies decide to part ways with Rollins, they will have money to spend at shortstop.
Today, Alderson claimed that the financial situation now facing Mets ownership won't affect whether or not the Mets re-sign Reyes:
I fully expect that decision will be made as it would have been, in the best interest of the team on the field, and the best interest of the overall sort of financial health as well as baseball future of the Mets -- as it would be with any other team.
But Alderson also said today that the Mets may not be plowing all the money that will come off the books after 2011 back into the team:
You may know recent Mets history better than I. I don't know if we've gotten this high in the past. One never wants to rest at one extreme or the other. My sense is that our payroll is a little higher this year than I would have liked to have been, but we are where we are. Whether that means we drop back in future years to some extent, I don't know. But we will continue to expend money at very high levels and I think be among the highest payrolls in baseball."
It's hard to believe that Alderson and his "dream team" are unaware of the Mets' payroll history. And if they don't know recent Mets history as well as they should, they should look back to 2005-8, when Reyes earned MVP votes four straight years and was the offensive catalyst when the team was a playoff contender.
If Reyes can't stay healthy yet again this season, the Mets have a difficult decision to make. But a healthy Reyes belongs on the Mets. Not on another team such as the Red Sox, which might also need a shortstop. And certainly not on the Phillies.