Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes is reporting tonight that the Miami Marlins have blinked from their first offer to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. Their first offer was six years, $90 million, but today, it’s been learned that a new offer is on the table: six years, $111 million. The deal is worth $106 million over six years, with a $5 million buyout in year seven for a $22 million option. Average annual value: $18.5 million a year, but the actual dollar amount will be about $17 million a year.
Now, is Reyes really worth that much money? When he’s healthy, he is. Since becoming a regular in 2005, Reyes has four seasons worth in the neighborhood of 6.0 fWAR (ranging from 5.8 to 6.4). He’s also got three seasons under 3.0 fWAR, so there’s some volatility there. Reyes will turn 29 midway through the 2012 season, and the contract offered by Miami will take Reyes through his age 34 season. Since speed is Reyes’ best skill, and speed generally fades as a player ages, the proposed deal is very risky for the Marlins. They’re banking on the fact that Reyes won’t lose his speed as quick as others have in the past, and that maybe only one year of the deal will feature Reyes being overpaid.
But if Reyes’ speed goes by age 30, what kind of player is he? He’s a 30 double, 15 triple, 10 homer type of player, and if the speed goes, those triples will turn into doubles, and some of his “hustle doubles” will turn into singles. As a result, his overall power numbers will dip. Reyes is also a demon on the basepaths, but he’s already dropped off from earlier in his career. With leg problems plaguing him last year, he might not be the 50-60 steal type of player anymore…maybe just a 30 steal guy.
Where is Reyes without his speed? Rafael Furcal could be a good comparison. After signing with the Dodgers after the 2005 season, injuries started to mount for Furcal, and his speed disappeared. He was still an effective player, but wasn’t worth anywhere near $18 million a year. That’s the path that the Marlins are traveling down: in an attempt to remain competitive, they’re trying to make big splashes in free agency for the hell of it, and not making the wisest decisions. The Heath Bell signing last week was the first domino, and if the Marlins sign Reyes for nine figures, this could be the next domino to fall.