If you've been paying attention to MLB Rumor Central, there's no doubt you've been privy to some Jose Reyes trade talk. Because the New York Mets appear unlikely to contend and their owners are in the midst of the Bernie Madoff scandal, many folks have decided it's a foregone conclusion that the Mets will trade their star shortstop before he becomes a free agent this winter.
There's a certain irony at play here because New York fans are often resented for assuming they can always trade their mediocrity for other teams' stars and this time the shoe is on the other foot; fans of clubs that have a hole at shortstop are dreaming of acquiring Reyes for 50 cents on the dollar. But if you take a step back and look at the Mets' payroll situation, they probably don't "have to" trade Reyes. Therefore, the question becomes "should they trade Reyes?" And when you examine potential trade partners, it doesn't appear there is a great match.
First, let's establish why the club doesn't necessarily have to move its shortstop. The Mets' payroll is $142.8 million, and when you factor in the Madoff situation, not to mention the end of a few onerous contracts this winter, that figure will be substantially lower in 2012. Thanks to the indispensable Cot's Contracts, we can see that the Mets have just $66.8 million committed for next season with the contracts of Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and possibly Francisco Rodriguez off the books. I say "possibly" because Rodriguez has a $17.5 million vesting option that kicks in if he finishes 55 games this year (he's at 12 so far). If that option vests it would certainly complicate the Reyes matter.