The Winter Meetings hadn’t even began before that prediction came true. It was announced late on Sunday evening that the Miami Marlins have reportedly agreed a six-year deal with shortstop Jose Reyes.
It was difficult not to view the Miami Marlins’ public courting of the leading free agents with cynicism. Their previous money-pinching ways have seen to that. While the financial boost of moving to a new ballpark, largely funded by the taxpayer, gave them the resources and motivation to make a splash, old habits die hard. Do they genuinely believe they can sign Albert Pujols or do they simply think showing him around will boost season ticket sales?
Pujols may be beyond their reaches – although it does look like they are making a firm effort to sign him – but Reyes was ticketed as their number one offseason target and the fact that they have reeled him in should ramp up the excitement in Miami.
Reports suggested that the former Met was looking for ‘Carl Crawford money’, by which was meant a comparative sum to the seven-year/$142m contract that the left fielder signed with the Boston Red Sox this time last year.
He hasn’t quite reached that level in terms of guaranteed years and dollars. Reyes’ injury history always made Crawford’s contract a staring point to work backwards from, rather than an achievable target. However, Reyes hasn’t exactly missed out.
The reported deal sees Reyes banking $102m over the next six years – that’s Â£65,093,480.43, or Â£208,632.95 per week – with a $22m option for a seventh year or a $4m buyout.Â
Reyes is a dynamic player and even if he does miss some time through injuries, his performances when he does take the field should give the Marlins a good chance of getting decent value from the deal. Any multi-year contract carries a risk, but if you are going to take such a risk you might as well do so with an exciting, established player.
One of the most interesting aspects of this addition for the Marlins is how it might impact on Hanley Ramirez. It’s generally accepted that Ramirez will move over to third base, which is no bad thing for the Marlins considering his erratic glove work at shortstop (although Reyes isn’t the most consistent fielder you’ll ever see either). The real change might come in Ramirez’s attitude.
Ever since his time in the Red Sox’s farm system, Ramirez hasn’t had the best of reputations when it comes to hard work and his general behaviour towards teammates and the coaching staff. He had a difficult 2011 season where injuries interrupted his playing time and his poor attitude appeared to make matters worse (accepting that those of us on the outside never know the full story about such things).
The signing of Reyes could work one of two ways. If Ramirez starts off slowly at the plate and gets criticised for errors in the field, things could go downhill in a hurry as he broods about being disrespected and unappreciated by the team. However, the Marlins will hope it goes the other way: that he sees the Reyes signing as a challenge and a catalyst to put in his best season and show that he is still the leader on the club.
A return to form for Ramirez accompanied by an injury-free Reyes would make for an all-action lineup alongside other young talent such as Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison.
With closer Heath Bell reportedly signing on a three-year deal as well, Marlins fans may finally be able to cast their doubts aside. Their team really could be going places, and not just in the sense of moving to a new ballpark.