Every Mets fan knows the answer to this trivia question: Who has played the most continuous games in a Mets uniform? Ed Kranepool, of course, with 1,853 games. But do you know who number two and three are? David Wright (1,006) and Jose Reyes (926).
Those of us who have enjoyed watching Jose over the years (and still regard him as one of the game’s most exciting players) were hoping he could spend his entire career in a blue and orange cap. But MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo is only the latest writer to suggest that the Wilpons’ financial woes will lead to breaking up the greatest left side of the infield the Mets’ have ever had.
Reyes has never attained the superstar status that was heralded for him when he debuted for the Mets in 2003, but let’s not pretend that he hasn’t been a terrific player. His career batting average is .285, he’s led the league in stolen bases three times, and he’s been one of the best defensive shortstops in the game over the past decade.
Let’s not also pretend that the Mets can’t reach a deal with him before the trade deadline in July – Jose has said over and over that he wants to stay in New York and that he would be reasonable in any negotiation. Clearly the Mets have been leaking these trade rumors to the press in order to soften up Mets fans for a move whose only real purpose would be to lighten their payroll. (And surely the Mets front office doesn’t believe for a moment it could get anything like the kind of value Reyes currently provides for less money.)
While we’re not pretending, let’s also not pretend something else: namely that the Yankees can’t go much further with Derek Jeter at shortstop. We’ve written about this before. We don’t know where Jeter can play, and no option, whether DH (it’s highly unlikely he can produce enough runs at his age to justify that move) or outfield (who says at age 37, which is what Jeter will be in June, he can learn a new outfield position?) seems satisfactory. Either Jeter will wind up on the bench or the Yankees will do something drastic like asking A-Rod to become full time DH, then try Jeter at the less strenuous position of third base.
But whatever they decide to do, Jeter can’t play shortstop much longer. So let’s keep ahead of the rumors by starting one of our own: the Yankees might be well served to assume Reyes’ $11 million salary for this year – how many teams are going to pick up a financial obligation like that? — and the Mets, happy to save the money, might take less in trade than they normally would. And Jose isn’t likely to object to a move across town.
Appalling as the idea might be to Mets fans, we have a strong hunch that this is the direction in which Jose is headed – and you’re going to start hearing the rumors on this very soon.