Marlins sign Jose Reyes – let the winter meetings begin

New York Mets Jose Reyes reacts in the dug out in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field in New York City on July 16, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo

It appears as though both Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez will have new homes next season.

Pending a physical, the Reyes and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a six-year, $106 million deal. The 28-year-old shortstop hit .337 last season for the Mets and with Miami trying to draw good attendance for its new stadium, the Marlins put on a full-court press in attempts to sign Reyes over the past few weeks.

Reyes, who gives the Marlins an upgrade at shortstop defensively, will essentially force Ramirez to move to third base. When previously asked if he would be willing to change positions following reports that the Marlins were interested in Reyes, Ramirez said that, “I’m a shortstop.” But apparently he has agreed to play third now that Reyes is heading to Miami.

With the winter meetings starting up this week, more big signings could be on their way. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran and C.J. Wilson are some of the biggest names that could be heading to different cities next season. There was a report last week that the Cubs were interested in signing Pujols, although that may just be a ploy in order to drive up the price for the Cardinals, who are Chicago’s most bitter rival. It’s assumed that Pujols wants to stay in St. Louis, but only if the price is right. His last contract was rather owner-friendly and he has already said that he isn’t willing to give a hometown discount to the Cardinals, although that could change.

While Fielder’s next destination is largely unknown, it appears as though it won’t be Milwaukee, where the first baseman has spent his entire career to this point. There has been at least one report, however, that said Fielder has narrowed his choices of where he wants to sign to the Blue Jays, Rangers and Brewers, with Toronto thought to be the favorite.

Now that Reyes is off the market, Jimmy Rollins should become the most sought after shortstop. There is speculation that the Brewers and Cardinals are the Phillies’ primary competition when it comes to signing Rollins, who batted .268 with 16 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 142 games this past season for Philadelphia. Rollins just turned 33 on November 27.

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Mets owner slams Wright, Reyes and Beltran

New York Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon talks to reporters at a news conference at Shea Stadium in New York in this October 1, 2002 file image. The owners of the New York Mets turned a blind eye to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and should give up roughly $300 million of fictitious profits they made from the now imprisoned swindler, a new lawsuit said. Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee recovering money for Madoff’s victims, claims the partners at Sterling Equities, including the Mets’ Fred Wilpon, “were simply in too deep — having substantially supported their businesses with Madoff money — to do anything but ignore the gathering clouds. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen/Files (UNITED STATES) – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL BUSINESS CRIME LAW)

When your ballclub is in financial ruins because you mistakenly invested a significant amount of coin in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, naturally the next step is to criticize your own players when speaking to the media.

That’s exactly what Mets owner Fred Wilbon did when he spoke with The New Yorker’s Jeffery Toobin for a story about the impact of the Bernie Madoff investment scandal. In Wilbon’s crosshairs were Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

Shortstop Jose Reyes and his contractual future:
“He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford ($142 million) money. .. He’s had everything wrong with him physically). He won’t get it.”

David Wright and his rough start this season:
“He’s pressing. … A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

Carlos Beltran and the current $119 million contract Wilpon, himself, handed out:
“We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on one (postseason) series. … He’s 65 to 75 % of what he was.”

There will be some Mets and non-Mets fans that will say Wilbon spoke the truth. And maybe he did. Maybe he’s right when he says Reyes is delusional about wanting Carl Crawford-type money, that Wright isn’t a superstar despite being viewed publicly as one of the best at his position, and that Beltran is a shell of his former self.

But whether or not you agree with what he said, he still shouldn’t have said it. It does him, nor the Mets organization any good to dog the club’s three best players. What will these comments say to future free agents? Hey, come sign with the Mets and you not only can play for a crap team, but maybe one day you’ll get slammed by the owner as well! It’s a riot!

There was nothing, and I mean nothing, constructive about Wilpon’s comments. If you’re an owner, you just don’t say what he did, regardless of whether or not you’re just “speaking the truth.” He’s running a professional baseball organization for cribs’ sake – it’s never a good time for an owner to slam his players unless he’s trying to motivate them. And even then: Shut your mouth and let your baseball people handle the baseball operations.

I don’t follow the Mets 24/7 so if I’m wrong with what I’m about to say, someone please tell me. But as far as I can tell, Wright, Reyes and Beltran have been nothing but professional when it comes to the Mets and the media. They would never say anything about their owner like what Wilpon said about them. And to Wright’s credit, he e-mailed Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal saying: “Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times. There is nothing more productive that I can say at this time.”

The key word there is “productive.” There was nothing productive about Wilpon’s comments and it’s nice to see that in the wake of being dumped on by his owner, Wright stayed classy.

2011 Fantasy Baseball All-Contract Year Team

Fellow TSR fantasy baseball writer David Medsker recently reminded me of something legendary manager Sparky Anderson once said:

“Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.”

It got me thinking: What if you could build a fantasy team this year comprised only of players in the last years of their contracts? Granted, unless your league was made up of owners who have lived in a cave for the past five years, you couldn’t draft Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes on the same team. But since this is just for stickers and giggles, don’t sweat the details. (Seriously, have a little fun for once in your life.)

Without further ado, I give you the All-Contract Year Fantasy Team.

(Note: I’ve indicated if a player has a club option for next year.)

All 2011 Fantasy Articles | 2011 Position Rankings

Catcher: Jorge Posada, Yankees
Obviously Posada’s best days are behind him and now that the Yankees have Russell Martin to help share the catching duties this season, it appears as though the 39-year-old backstop is destined to finish his career as a DH. Hopefully the transition will mean fewer trips to the disabled list for Posada, who has landed on the DL four times in the past three years combined. There’s still 15-20 home runs left in his bat and with this being the final year of his contract, he needs to show the Bombers that he’s worth keeping around past this season. (Yadier Molina of the Cardinals also has a $7 million club option with a $750K buyout for next season, so he’s another possibility if you’re concerned about Posada’s durability.)

First Base: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by writing about why Albert Pujols is the best first base-eligible player in a contract year, but what I will do is note that both Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder’s current deals also run out in 2011. Talk about an interesting 2012 free agency year it’ll be for first basemen.

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