It was only a matter of hours ago that I expressed my disappointment in the way the New York Mets’ Jose Reyes handled his lead in the NL batting title race. I don’t like the fact that Jose Reyes, after dropping down a bunt hit in his first at-bat, took himself out of the game to preserve his batting average lead over the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun. I’m not irate or disgusted over it, its just not the way I want the players on my teams to approach challenges. It’s in the past though and the purpose of this post isn’t necessarily to dwell on this. What I really want to do is discuss whether Jose Reyes lost himself money on the free agent market this winter with his self-removal. It may seem a little bit far fetched to suggest that Jose Reyes is going to take a financial hit in the future because of a relatively minor act of…selfishness (that is a little harsher than I really wanted to go but I don’t have the precise word at the moment), but the more I think about it, the less I can put it past Major League GMs to hold this against Jose Reyes – even if its just a little bit.
I’m not in the heads of any general mangers so beyond some speculation or, at best, a semi-educated guess I don’t know what they’re thinking. I do think it is safe to say that none of Reyes’ potential future bosses were thrilled to see him take the “easy route” to the NL Batting Title. We’re heading into 2012 though and things that would really create some passionate fury 20-25 years ago only get 1:10 of chatter on Pardon the Interruption (1:30 if you really stirred some stuff up). This doesn’t mean that the people making baseball decisions are too far removed from the “old days” to place significant stock in the “respect for the game” and other unwritten, intangible values. The statistical “new age” has infected most of baseball but there is still old school blood pumping through the game.
This is where I think Reyes could face a little bit of a hurdle. For all of the fancy stats and formulas that are utilized in decision making, GMs ultimately have to make player personnel decisions on a very simple basis: is this guy a winner? I’m not arguing that Jose Reyes, himself, is or is not a winner, but taking yourself out of a game to preserve your lead in the batting title race is not the type of mentality that leads championship caliber clubs. It’s passive and could be perceived as an expectation of losing – and perception is reality in many cases. It would not surprise me if a handful of GMs saw what happened Wednesday afternoon and instantly decided that they wanted nothing to do with Reyes in free agency. Maybe those few didn’t have a shot or genuine interest in signing Reyes for $120+ million in the first place. Maybe they did.
Like I said, I know that it is a little far fetched to suggest that Jose Reyes will lose significant money ($5-10 million over the life of his contract) for removing himself from Wednesday afternoon’s season finale. It’s just one of those gut feelings that I have though. With all of the drama that unfolded between the two wild card races, the media pretty much just skirted over the Reyes self-removal. However, there is no doubt that every general manager is aware of it. I wish I could be a fly on the wall during contract negotiations and front office meetings because I am sure that this topic will come up in discussion more than a few times.