Free Agent Jose Reyes to Detroit? Let Me Count the Reasons Not


The Jose Reyes to Detroit rumors have been rampant for months around these parts.  In a way, the move would make sense.  A strong fielding, dynamic player that could be plugged into a team that is solid at a minimum and a World Series contender in a best case scenario.

He’d provide speed to a lineup in desperate need of it and immediately assume the leadoff spot in the batting order while center fielder Austin Jackson continues to refine his major league swing.  Mike Illitch is willing to spend and Dave Dombrowski has show an ability to make a splash and with $23 Million coming off the books for Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen the Tigers have the ability to spend.

Despite all of theses compelling reasons, you’re more likely to see a perfect game from Brad Penny than Jose Reyes wearing the Old English D.  Reyes is simply a luxury that the Tigers won’t be able to afford.  They need some help in the lineup, but they aren’t going to break the bank on a big name free agent, especially one with a checkered health history at a position that isn’t even a need.

Let’s get this established.  The Tigers have a fine shortstop.  In fact, they might have the best shortstop in the American League.  No one would have told you that back in March, but that’s the way the season shook out.  Jhonny Peralta became a .300/20 HR/80 RBI player, the later two numbers being something that Reyes will never consistently replicate.  In addition, they’re rearly identical in their defensive numbers.  Peralta was maglined for his defensive range heading into the season, but he actually ranks 2nd in MLB in fielding percentage in the middle of all MLB shortstops in range ratings.  Yes he’s played third base, but Peralta is much more comfortable at shortstop, evidenced by the .011% higher fielding percentage he has at shortstop.  Besides, if you move Peralta to third and he becomes a guy who plays just as well there and continues to hit, signing him to a long term deal would impede the ascension of third base prospect Nick Castellanos…one of the Tigers only blue chip everyday player prospects.

If we learned anything in the playoffs, it’s that the teams no doubt, biggest weakness is the bullpen.  It’s not shortstop or even third base.  The bullpens were the difference between the Rangers and Tigers in the ALCS.  The Rangers pitching success improved when their starters were pulled, but if it wasn’t Jose Valverde or Joaquin Benoit, it was a mess for the Tigers, leaving Jim Leyland with very few options.  A big chunk of the freed up salaries needs to be used to rebuild the bullpen.  Beyond Valverde and Benoit, Al Alburquerque and Daniel Schlereth still deserve a look, but the rest of the bullpen can rebuild with guys with something to prove like Matt Capps or perhaps Jonathan Broxton if he’s willing to accept a late inning role while proving he’s healthy.  It’s apparent that the Tigers will acquire a bat.  But it just makes more sense if it’s a guy like Armanis Ramirez, a vertern player who can assume third base for a few years while the Tigers figure out what they have in Castellanos.

Jose Reyes is the Carl Crawford of this year’s free agent class.  He’s a flashy player with all the intangibles that some team will drastically overpay for.  Just like with Crawford last year, it won’t be the Tigers making the mistake of signing Reyes to that contract.