After touring Mark Buehrle around South Beach yesterday, the Florida Marlins are meeting with Jose Reyes today. Reyes is one of the players the Marlins are attempting to make a big push for this offseason, and if the recent rumor is correct, they're taking an unusual approach to wooing him:
Yet Mets people on Tuesday privately downplayed the significance of the Marlins' aggressiveness. One person said he heard they plan to offer Reyes only a three-year deal at a high annual average, presumably more than $20 million a year. (New York Daily News)
"Downplaying their aggressiveness"? I think not. The standard assumption has been that Reyes will get a contract this offseason for 5-7 years for around $100 million, meaning he'd likely not top an average of $20 million/year. If the Marlins are willing to offer Reyes a higher average salary for such a short period of time, not only would Reyes become the highest paid shortstop in the game, but he'd get another chance at signing a lucrative contract.
At 28 years old, Reyes would only be 31 at the end of his hypothetical three-year deal with the Marlins. At that point, Reyes could seek a long-term deal that would pay him well into his late 30s. Considering that the free agent market inflates over time -- and that Reyes would have three peak years to prove his superstar status -- that long-term deal could meet or exceed what he's hoping to get right now.
But if Reyes decided to shoot for a 5-7 year deal right now for a lower annual salary, he would end up a free agent again around the age of 33-35. Shortstops don't always age well, and considering he's had a checkered injury history, it's difficult to say how much teams would be willing to invest in a 35-year-old Reyes. Odds are, though, he wouldn't get another long term deal, and he wouldn't make as much money as the Marlins are offering right now.
This is a savvy move by the Marlins. If Reyes accepts the deal, it gives them a star player but doesn't commit them to him over a long period of time, minimizing the risk involved in signing the injury-prone Reyes. It's also a more attractive offer than it seems at first glance, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if Reyes jumps at the chance to make huge money both now and in three years.
So to those Mets executives that tried to write off the Marlins: don't. They're being more aggressive than you think.