Jose Reyes Signs With The Marlins. No, Really.

We laughed when the Florida Miami Marlins revealed their new uniforms. We mocked them when they unveiled their thing-that-pops-up-when-they-hit-a-home-run-thing. We rolled our eyes when they “made an offer” to Albert Pujols for nine years but under $200 million. We even snickered when the Marlins opened up the pocketbook and dropped $27 million on a closer. Now, baseball sources confirm that the Marlins have signed former Met Jose Reyes to a 6-year, $106 million contract.

Who’s laughing now?

Well, some writers still aren’t crazy about the signing. Rob Neyer doesn’t like it for the Marlins down the line. Although I’m a Neyer fan and understand his concerns, I like the deal for the Marlins for a few reasons.

First, the Marlins are getting a good player at a decent price. Yes, $17.66666666666666666 million a season isn’t exactly a “bargain”, but in terms of potential value, the Marlins are getting off easy. At six years, Reyes will begin his Marlin career at 28 and will finish it at 34, which means a majority of his contract is during prime years and the Marlins won’t be paying (potentially) dead money to a player at a skill position pushing 40. His yearly average is large, but not larger than the following players:

Of those players, only Sabathia, Lee, Gonzalez, Halladay, Kemp, and Cabrera had a better WAR last season, keeping in mind too that Reyes missed a month of so of games due to injury. All those contracts were signed years before Reyes (with the exception of Kemp, who just signed his extension), and it’s not like baseball suddenly started losing money, so we can’t blame the lower price on that. So the Marlins got an All-Star player at a low-end market value, which is a good thing for any team, regardless of whether you’re the Marlins or the Yankees.

The other major reason though is that it really does send a message to the league and to other potential free agents that maybe the Miami Marlins aren’t playing games when it comes to free agency and player acquisition. Ken Rosenthal made a comparison earlier when the Marlins signed Heath Bell that Bell’s signing could be like the Mets signing Pedro Martinez in the 2004-05 offseason, triggering bigger signings (in the Mets’ case – Carlos Beltran). In reality, it’s Reyes who fits almost too well into the “Pedro role”; an all-star player coming in with injury concerns signed to a lower end of the market deal whose signing would be OK by itself, but even better if it led to an even bigger name (say, Albert Pujols?)

There are a few drawbacks. Reyes has lost time the last three seasons due to injury, and his defense has declined since his initial major injury in 2009. With reoccurring injuries to his calves and hamstrings, a concern would be that Reyes would lose his speed, a major factor in his value.

Then there’s the issue of the Marlins already having a shortstop, and a pretty good one in Hanley Ramirez. While Ramirez isn’t that good of a defensive shortstop, that is his initial position, and he kind of wanted to stay there. Hanley has never really come off as a character guy full of maturity, so it’ll be curious how Hanley handles having to move to (likely) third base. Luckily for the Marlins, I think if anyone can get Hanley to do it, it’s new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.


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