Two years ago, the New York Jets let one of their biggest homegrown stars ever get away in the prime of his career over money. Once Darrelle Revis was gone, cornerback went from the Jets' biggest strength to their biggest weakness. As a Jets' fan, I was elated when the news broke about Revis yesterday. But I couldn't help but think about the Mets' biggest weaknesses - shortstop and leadoff hitter, and how they created those weaknesses by letting one of their biggest homegrown stars ever get away in the prime of his career over money.
Jose Reyes is not the superstar future Hall of Famer that Revis is. He has $66 million owed over the next three years on his backloaded contract (more than A-Rod!), If Toronto had been willing to trade Reyes during the offseason, many would have argued against the Mets bringing the injury-prone Reyes back at that price.
But while Reyes may not be the Revis of baseball, he has turned out to be just as irreplaceable as far as the Mets are concerned. Maybe more so, considering that he filled two needs - shortstop and leadoff hitter.
According to Baseball Reference, the Mets have $89.6 million in guaranteed salaries for 2015, while the Blue Jays have $120.7M. So if the Mets had Reyes' salary in addition to their current commitments, the total would be 111.6M, still 9M less than the Blue Jays are spending now.
It's bad enough that the Mets don't spend like a big-market team. But if they spent like the Toronto Blue Jays, they could afford a player like Reyes, even at his bloated backloaded salary.
Since leaving the Mets, Reyes has missed 90 games in three years, so he is certainly an injury risk. But David Wright, whom the Mets did sign to a long-term deal, has missed 84 games during that time. And while Reyes has continued to perform at a high level when he is on the field, Wright has many wondering if he is in decline. Wright, by the way, is still owed 107M. (Don't get me wrong - I'm glad the Mets actually gave Wright his contract - that's what big-market teams are supposed to do. It just would have been nice if they had done the same with Reyes.)
If the Mets had kept Reyes, they might now be a favorite for a playoff spot, rather than a team that has a shot because there are two wild cards now.
As the Jets and Mets found out, it's not simply valuing the player, but figuring out how you can replace him. Even the Yankees have had trouble replacing homegrown star Robinson Cano at second base. But Squawker Lisa, I see the Yankees have finally filled that void with the announcement that Stephen Drew has won the job. Sure, Cano hit .314 last year, while Drew hit .150. But, as Brian Cashman might argue, Cano is getting $24M while Drew is getting $5M, so the Yankees are getting half the production at just 1/5 the cost!