Monday, December 05, 2011

Instant Reaction: Jose Reyes Signs with Marlins

I'll skip citing to official reports that the deal is done, as they are all over the internet right now.

Jose Reyes to the Marlins, six years, $106 million.  That's $17.6 million per year, likely backloaded somewhat.  A bargain for the Marlins?

I'd say yes.

Over the last six years, even with his injury-plagued 2009, Reyes was worth $118 million to the Mets, as per the calculations at Fangraphs.  The Fangraphs numbers are not bible, of course, and contain a number of assumptions, but are useful as a quick-and-dirty evaluation tool.

That said, in terms of on the field value alone, Reyes will -- provided he has a streak of health similar to his time with the Mets -- provide the Marlins with somewhere in the neighborhood of  what he is being paid.  He's 28 today, and will only be 34 at the end of the deal.

In addition to his on the field contribution, Reyes is an incredibly marketable player.  Curmudgeonly columnists and old-dudes asides, Reyes was undoubtedly the most beloved Met over the last two seasons, and arguably longer.  He resonates with young people, with minorities, with those who cherish speed and defense, and with those who are enamored with those who play the game with joy.  Namely -- all of us.

The Marlins got a bargain, and it will be interesting to see the reaction that Reyes garners when he returns.  If he sees success in South Florida, I imagine those that wanted him gone will attempt to paint a picture of a player who matured only after he left, but who would never have been a star in New York.  If he fails in his sojourn, they will congratulate themselves for identifying a player who would never have succeeded.

For those of us who know better, we are left only to wonder.  We know that Reyes, imperfect as his time in New York was, was nothing less than a superstar.  He is the Mets only batting champion, all time leader in runs scored, second in hits, first in steals, and fourth in total bases.  He did all this, as a shortstop no less, yet still left us as not much more than a pup.

This news is not unexpected, but it is no less sad.  As impartial as we are, and as much as I'd like to approach most transactions as an economist, we are all fans.  I'm sorry to see Jose go -- especially since at that price (or even a little more) it would have made sense to keep him.

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