The Blue Jays’ Apparent Dilemma with Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes has many accolades: he’s an All-Star shortstop, he owns a batting title and he’s been one of the most dynamic players in all of baseball.
Any team would be lucky to have Reyes as their starting shortstop, but the Toronto Blue Jays do have Jose Reyes, and he’s been anything but lucky as of late.
It wasn’t a great weekend for Jose Reyes for multiple reasons, as that series at Target Field was essentially a microcosm of his tenure thus far with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Reyes committed three errors over the course of three games against the Minnesota Twins, one of which would eventually cost the Blue Jays a win. Jose Reyes was also thrown out a few times trying to advance an extra ninety feet on the base paths.
Ordinarily, these blunders are just minor things which most people wouldn’t take issue with. But things appear to be reaching a boiling point with Jose Reyes and the remaining three years and $66 million dollars left on his contract.
In turn, the Toronto Blue Jays are now being forced to answer a lot of questions about their All-Star starting shortstop.
In many ways, Jose Reyes himself is very symbolic of what’s gone wrong for the Blue Jays since those monster trades during the 2012/2013 offseason. Admittedly, there was a tremendous amount of hope pegged on a cast of characters cultivated in a fantasy baseball-like fashion.
When Jose Reyes was initially acquired as part of the blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, he was viewed as the crown jewel of the entire deal. Reyes was a dynamic player at a premium position and projected to fill a number of holes on the Blue Jays’ roster.
However, the honeymoon was fairly short-lived as injuries have mounted these past few years, and his declining skill set has brought this apparent issue to the forefront with the Blue Jays.
While it’s true that Reyes is no longer a speed demon who can steal more than 60 bases in a season and he probably won’t win another batting title, he’s still a very good player. And until a better replacement comes along, the Blue Jays should absolutely continue to use Reyes in an everyday capacity.
There are some vocal advocates of Ryan Goins who wish to have him supplant Jose Reyes at shortstop, which is understandable, given that Goins is admittedly the superior fielder. But Reyes is still so much better at the plate and on the base paths … and it’s not even close.
Because of the large price tag associated with Jose Reyes, he automatically comes with a great deal of expectations. At $22 million dollars annually, he should be performing at the elite shortstop level. In most aspects he has been, but as with any baseball player, Reyes makes the odd gaffe.
There’s no question that Jose Reyes possesses a great deal of speed and is a gifted hitter, but he’s never really garnered a reputation as a stellar defender. If anything, his speed has caused many to overlook his defensive shortcomings, which have come into focus in recent years.
When the Blue Jays traded for Jose Reyes in that massive deal, not only were they getting his great speed, agility and skill at the plate, they were also getting his deficiencies as well. With the good comes the bad, and by acquiring a player at his age, the bad can outweigh the good on occasion.
The Blue Jays’ front office surely did their homework in the preliminary talks of acquiring Jose Reyes, and should have had the ability to foresee that his defense might become an issue down the road.
Some are suggesting that Jose Reyes should be moved into the outfield, which could solve two problems simultaneously; filling the Blue Jays’ void in left field, while at the same time, establishing a better defender at shortstop in Ryan Goins.
It’s really not that cut-and-dry of a situation, as Jose Reyes seems adamant that he wants to play shortstop whenever possible. In order to ease the transition and make things run as smoothly as possible, this might be an option the Blue Jays could roll out during the offseason rather than mid- season.
And don’t the Blue Jays already have enough guys playing out of position on an everyday basis? Moving Reyes to left field would simply make one more; a position that he never had the intention of playing at all this season.
Reyes has played precisely one game in the outfield during his minor league career some 15 years ago in the Mets organization. People really expect him to just suddenly pick it up mid-season and do a respectable job?
Many are pointing towards Hanley Ramirez as the prime example which the Blue Jays should follow. However, the big difference is that Hanley signed with the Red Sox with the understanding that he would be their starting left fielder.
Ramirez at least had a transition period during the offseason and Spring Training and had a chance to get in some reps in the outfield. Plucking Jose Reyes from shortstop and planting him in the outfield one-third of the way through the season might have disastrous results.
If you think Jose Reyes looks bad at shortstop (a position he’s been playing at the big league level for the past 13 years), wait until you see him in left field.
In moving Reyes to left and Goins to short, that also creates another hole at second base; a void which would be immediately filled by Munenori Kawasaki. With that option presented, a tandem of Reyes/Goins up the middle suddenly appears to be much better than Goins/Kawasaki both offensively and defensively.
The other option is to eventually slide Jose Reyes over to second base rather than the outfield. But now that Devon Travis has emerged as the Blue Jays’ potential second baseman of the future, any plans to keep Reyes at second may be short-lived.
This is also a sensitive subject the Blue Jays have to broach in the right manner with their starting shortstop. They’d be asking Jose Reyes to move off of a position he’s played virtually his entire professional career, and as an established veteran at a native position, this is something Jose Reyes might not even entertain altogether.
For whatever defensive inefficiencies he may have or whatever base running blunders he may commit, if Jose Reyes is still healthy, then he should still be playing shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays.
If Jose Reyes gives the Blue Jays the best chance to win on any given night, then John Gibbons won’t hesitate to keep Reyes’ bat in the lineup … nor should he.
Until Reyes keeps costing the Blue Jays outs, runs and subsequently games on a consistent basis, he’s going to stay right where he is; as a mainstay at the top of the Blue Jays lineup and firmly entrenched as the club’s everyday shortstop.
Image via Elsa/Getty Images