11/10/11 10:00 AM EST
There'll be no shortage of attention for Reyes
NL batting champion heads group of free-agent shortstops
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Pujols and Fielder top the lists of available position players, but relatively few teams can put enough money where their mouths are to enter those conversations, and most of the clubs that do don't have a vacancy at first base. But a lot of teams are shopping for shortstops. Ergo, it's a bull market for Reyes.The Mets would like to retain him, but they face a lot of competition. By declining to deal Reyes last July -- a month they finished 13 1/2 games out of first place, even before going 22-32 over the final two months -- the Mets indicated their commitment to do everything possible to re-sign him. There was a note of irony to Reyes staying in Queens through the summer's Trade Deadline: He'd spent the first half of July on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, adding another injury to a track record that might concern interested teams. Also, how much will prospective bidders read into Reyes' decision to bunt-and-bolt for the National League batting title? If you need a refresher: He led off the season's final game with a bunt single, then called it a day and a season with his average a safe distance from that of runner-up Ryan Braun.
Looking to buy: Three NL East clubs have their 2011 starters in the pool and on another (Marlins), incumbent Hanley Ramirez has volunteered to move if someone like Reyes was added. ... The Nationals seem eager to move beyond Ian Desmond's 57 errors the past two seasons, and they also need a leadoff hitter. ... The Tigers would love a front-line shortstop who gives them the luxury of moving Jhonny Peralta back to third base, his primary position in 2009-10. ... Seeking a veteran shortstop who would also add some punch, the Giants could be in the market. A homecoming by Oakland-native Rollins is possible if the NL East lets him get away. ... The Yankees are likely to bag one of the seasoned guys for their bench, allowing them to give Derek Jeter more days off.Top dog: The bark belongs to Reyes, a reigning batting champ -- the Mets' first, and the first free-agent batting king since Willie McGee in 1990 -- who is one of only two free-agent shortstops under 30 (Ronny Cedeno being the other). Were there a department store for free-agent shortstops, Reyes would be on the main floor, with everyone else in the basement. And, considering the hot button pushed during the summer by owner Fred Wilpon's he-won't-get-Carl-Crawford-money comment, wouldn't it be ironic if Reyes was signed by the same club that created that currency, Boston? Best of the rest: Rollins reversed a steady three-year decline since his 2007 MVP season and offers an upgrade to numerous clubs. ... The Brewers were disappointed with Betancourt's overall game, but his power numbers (13 homers, 68 RBIs) were the NL's best at the position after Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. Worth a shot: Atlanta's Jack Wilson suffered through an injury-wrecked season and hasn't played in more than 106 games since 2007, but he is a terrific, underrated defensive shortstop. ... Jamey Carroll was miscast as a regular with the Dodgers (17 RBIs in 452 at-bats), but he would be a fantastic late-game option on an NL contender. ... The Cardinals' Rafael Furcal seems to be an old 33, but that's because he was such an old 22, becoming a key Atlanta cog at that young age; his arm can compensate for whatever he has lost in range. ... Gonzalez had an on-base percentage of .270 but may not do enough on defense to make up for that. Potential class of 2013: Arizona's Stephen Drew stands out -- if he re-establishes his value after the severely broken right ankle that cut his 2011 season in half, the D-backs would be likely to exercise his $10 million option for 2013. Several veterans on this offseason's list will be signing one-year contracts, which will have them back in the mix a year from now.