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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Marlins - Sign Reyes
Miami Marlins sign SS Jose Reyes to a 6 year/ $111 million contract (6 years/ $106 with an option of a 7th year at $22 million or a $5 million buyout)
I see several contradictory factors here. First of all, because the Marlins already have Hanley Ramirez under contract one of them loses some of their value. Sure Ramirez could be shifted to center field (the Marlins weakest position last year) or third base ( Dobbs and Bonifacio weren’t bad, but Bonifacio was probably over his head and Dobbs may not be back and isn’t what you’d call a lock to play as well as he did last year in any case), but he’s have to play that position considerably better than he played shortstop to retain the same value. I don’t see that as likely, though I suppose it could happen. Ramirez has considerable physical gifts, but it takes more than those gifts to play a completely new position well.
Or they could trade Ramirez. This strikes me as selling low and could easily lead to a deal they’d regret. Given the ups and downs between the Marlins over the years nobody would be surprised if this is the plan, but there’s no way of knowing that you’ll get the price you want for Ramirez when you sign Reyes. The Marlins have to plan around having Ramirez even if they would like to move him.
Still the Ramirez factor merely suggests caution. It’s not a deal killer to me.
The second cautionary factor is this. Do you think Reyes would have commanded this price at this time last year? I don’t, and that’s something to be wary of. In addition, you can see a narrowing of the talent base. He probably won’t steal 60+ bases again (given his injury history this seems prudent. He can still run if needed) and it seems that his defense isn’t what it was in the past (though he’s not close to being bad and is an upgrade on Ramirez. In other words it’s not a problem, just something to note going forward.)
Against these factor, while last year was a career year driven by what was probably a fair amount of luck on balls put in play, the Marlins aren’t paying Reyes to repeat his 2011. Assuming decent health, something on the order of .300/.350/.450 with 40 stolen bases (and a good SB%) and average defense at shortstop (probably a little less than what the Marlins are hoping for) rates to be worth something just over 5 WAR. If they get anything close to that over the balance of the contract it’ll be a steal. Although last year was a career year, there’s nothing that was really surprising about it.
More simply, Reyes is an excellent player and these are the guys who have historically been the best buys. I’m not sure it’s the best use of the Marlins’ resources to go for Reyes specifically (but they have a problem in that they have adequate options at pretty much every position except perhaps center field—that’s the toughest type of mediocre team to upgrade), but I am glad to see the Marlins making moves that the casual fan will take note of and see as an attempt to build a winning team.
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