December 04, 2011
Up is down. Left is right. Dogs are living with cats and the Miami Marlins are poaching a superstar from the New York Mets with a nine-figure contract.
Not that we didn't know this was universal reordering was coming, of course. The Marlins had been flirting with Jose Reyes(notes) and his agent for weeks and the team had primed its new money line by signing closer Heath Bell(notes) to a big deal at the end of the week.
But with the winter meetings kicking off down in Dallas, Reyes and the Marlins are finally ready to announce their commitment to each other. Several outlets are reporting that the two sides are consummating their relationship with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pegging the financials at $106 million over the next six seasons. The deal does not include a no-trade clause, though who needs one with an annual salary worth $17.6 million?
Reyes had played in the Mets organization his entire career and is coming off a 2011 season that saw him win his first National League batting title. The financially-strapped Mets, however, made little effort to keep the injury-prone Reyes. Though the market didn't quite produce the "Carl Crawford money" that Mets owner Fred Wilpon presumed Reyes would ask for, the commitment was simply too much for the Mets to handle.
Just how much the Mets will regret losing Reyes' unique set of talents to an upstart division rival will depend on how healthy his hamstrings stay over the next half-dozen years. But they've already bungled this in a big way by refusing to trade Reyes at the trading deadline last July. Instead of controlling their return, they'll have to settle for compensatory picks that now have less value under the new CBA.
The Marlins, meanwhile, will face a decent challenge once the warm fuzzies warm off. First up is convincing incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez(notes) to move to third base, a switch he wasn't exactly eager to make last month. Then comes any possible repercussions of the SEC investigation into the new ballpark deal, which is fueling all these big-named signings. If the Marlins' aim is to spend the money while it's still in their pocket, they certainly picked a nice recipient in Reyes. A game-changer when he's fully healthy, Reyes still has plenty of potential and time to post a few MVP-type seasons as the Marlins aim to win their first NL East title.
In other words, if you're going to try and turn around a franchise by giving a player a contract that's worth more than your last two payrolls combined, Reyes might as well be the guy.