Commentary

Mets should say 'no way' to Jose Reyes

With team destined for mediocrity with him, trading star SS makes perfect sense

Updated: June 23, 2011, 8:58 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets' response to Jose Reyes should be simple: "No way, Jose."

After reaching out to Reyes' agent Tuesday to get an idea of what kind of money he's looking for to re-sign, the Mets were rebuffed, basically told to take a number with the other 29 teams after the season.

On Tuesday night, Reyes repeated what his agent had told the Mets, that he's not interested in talking money during the season. "Right now, I don't want any distractions," Reyes said before the Mets took on the Oakland A's at Citi Field. "I just want to continue to play. We're going to have plenty of time in the offseason."

If the Mets weren't sure what to do with Reyes -- trade him or try to re-sign him -- it should be crystal clear now.

The Mets must trade Reyes, their All-Star shortstop, for the best package available by the July 31 trading deadline. It only makes sense.

The last thing they can do is live in some fantasy world in which they believe they can't live without Reyes. The truth is, they can. Hate to break it to the you-can't-trade-Reyes crowd, but there hasn't been a championship banner raised here since he arrived in Queens.

And that's not to say it's all Reyes' fault. But when you don't win, anybody can be moved.

GM Sandy Alderson can't be fooled or be a prisoner of the moment. The Mets can't hold on to Reyes for the rest of the reason in an attempt to sell tickets or to keep pretending that this team is going to make the postseason.

In the end, the Mets won't sell out the joint every night and will finish in third place in the National League East, as most expected. Worse, they will be left holding the bag, getting just two draft picks from the team with which Reyes signs a free-agent deal.

That's not acceptable, especially when his trade value couldn't be any higher. The Mets probably could get two good, young players for Reyes, who is having a career year. Reyes is batting .336 with three homers, 29 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.

You can't blame Reyes, 28, for wanting to see what he can get on the open market. If he can play this well all season, he could end up with a contract close to the one Carl Crawford got from the Boston Red Sox this past offseason. "For me right now, the only thing I can do is continue to play," Reyes said. "I don't want to put any distractions on my mind.

"That's going to affect the way I perform on the field."

It's not fair. But you just get the feeling that with the Mets' luck with signing big-time players to fat-money contracts, Reyes would wind up hurt next season and the Mets will be saddled with the deal for years to come.

It's just how things seem to happen for the Mets. Can you say Johan Santana?

Plus, Reyes has a history of being injured. It's just a fact. Before this season, it was touch-and-go as to how healthy he would be to play every day. "Injuries are a part of the game," Reyes said. "Right now, I don't worry about injuries. I'm 100 percent. And I don't want to get anything on my mind. I just want to continue to play good for this team, and other things will take care of themselves later."

People are in love with the what-if, not the reality of what Reyes has been in Flushing. He has great potential. But most of his recent Mets career has been mired by injury and, worse, failure by his team in the biggest spots -- pennant race meltdowns.

The Mets must be rebuilt from top to bottom. No one wants a patch job, especially with the Philadelphia Phillies in the division. The Mets won't win anything trying to hold together this team with tape and glue.

The Mets have made many mistakes since 1986, their last championship. One of the biggest is not dealing players when their stock is sky high. Too often, they have waited too long and haven't been able to get full value.

"I didn't expect no one to call," Reyes said when asked whether he was surprised by the Mets' inquiry. "When they called, I listened to my agent, and we sat down and put a plan together."

The Mets need their own plan. And if management is serious about trying to build a team to win another championship, it can't be afraid to start the process with dealing Reyes to acquire some building blocks.

"I don't worry about that," Reyes said when asked whether he thought he would be traded. "I can't control that decision. The only thing I can do is go out every day and do my job."

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