Jose Reyes has already compiled the third highest fWAR of all shortstops since he began his career in 2003. Only Derek Jeter (41) and Jimmy Rollins (39.3) have compiled more than the 33.4 that Reyes has put up. But when you consider that Reyes missed most of 2009 and only played half the year in 2003 and 2004, Reyes has compiled his WAR in almost 300 less games played than those other two. And while Jeter is in his late thirties and Rollins is 32, Jose Reyes at 28 should be in his prime and that's a bonus fact for any team now considering the free agent shortstop.
Let's face it, the talent level at shortstop isn't deep. And considering that the position is considered one of the most important positions on the field, Reyes will be getting a nice chunk of change for his services. The one hesitation on everyone's mind is the trouble Reyes has had with injuries the last three years. But when he has been on the field, the man changes the game.
When looking at Jose Reyes, you have to go beyond the mere batting title he won this past season and look at the totality of his game. While not the defensive shortstop Rollins has been, Reyes is certainly better in the field that Jeter. The excitement he generates is incredible. His 99 triples compiled before his 5,000th career plate appearance hasn't been accomplished since 1927. His rate of scoring per game of 70 percent since he began his career is two percentage points above Rollins in that same time frame and just slightly ahead of Jeter. Reyes has already stolen 370 bases in his career, seventy more than Rollins in that same time frame. During his career, his ten percent strikeout rate is third among all shortstops during that time period with only Omar Vizguel and Orlando Cabrera striking out less. And you certainly wouldn't put Reyes in the same batting company as those two long-time shortstops.
The only two dim spots for Reyes statistically are that his home run power has diminished, which considering where he has played the last few years makes that understandable. The other is his walk rate, which for a guy with his speed, would really add to his game. His fielding metrics have slipped to the slightly negative range the last two seasons.
Reyes is an infectious and joyous player to watch. His energy on the field seems to lift his team and it certainly makes him a fan favorite. It will be hard for Mets' fans to see him go. The odds of Reyes resigning with the Mets seem astronomical. They are a team that has already acknowledged that they won't be competitive in 2012. The ownership has been in scrambling mode for the past year financially. If Reyes were to re-up with the Mets, it would be a shock.
So where will he go? We've already heard his name in rumors all over the league. His name has been linked to the Brewers and the Marlins. Every writer around baseball is making predictions. This writer might as well throw his hat into the ring. Jose Reyes will sign with the Miami Marlins. That team is suddenly looking to spend money (it must be one of those every ten year things), have a new ballpark opening up this season and have a shortstop with all kinds of talent that doesn't seem to fit the position anymore (Hanley Ramirez). Ramirez can move to third which is already a position of weakness for the Marlins and in the process, the Marlins would strengthen both infield positions on the left side of the diamond.
Why would Reyes go there? He is from the Dominican Republic and a warm weather team would seem to suit him. The warmer climate would be easier on this legs. It's hard to imagine a player with his birth place to consider the northern clime of Milwaukee over Florida if the money was close.
Wherever Reyes ends up, that fan base will get one of the most thrilling ballplayers in baseball today. Reyes is a unique talent who is a game changer and therefore a franchise changer.