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When Ken Rosenthal first reported on Sunday night that the Marlins had reached a six-year, $106 million deal with Jose Reyes, there were two immediate reactions. Most fans wondered whether it was an apt signing for Miami, while the Citi Field faithful were left dismayed by the loss of their favorite player. Only time will tell if Reyes's upside will make the signing worthwhile for the Marlins; for the Mets, though, this was the right decision.

GM Sandy Alderson said his hands were tied in the efforts to retain Reyes because the Mets lost $70 million last season. But even if the funds were available for New York to match Miami's offer, doing so would have been imprudent.

The current state of the Mets' roster suggests that things must get worse before they can get better. Johan Santana will make an average of $24.75 million over the next two seasons. Jason Bay will rake in another $16 million annually in 2012-2013. And David Wright—perhaps the only member of the trio with a strong chance to produce in line with his salary—will earn $15 million in 2012 and (assuming the Mets pick up his option) $16 million in 2013.

Though there are some promising players in New York's farm system, led by high-ceiling pitchers Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, most are at least a couple of years away from making a significant impact in the majors. By that time, Santana and Bay will no longer be drains on the payroll, giving Alderson—or his successor—the flexibility to build around the young pitching in a ballpark where Wheeler and Harvey should thrive. The next two seasons may be bleak, but Mets fans can take solace in the fact that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Moreover, the Mets may have an adequate replacement for Reyes in Ruben Tejada. The 22-year-old Tejada is no superstar, but he plays shortstop well, hits line drives, and showed excellent plate discipline last season, logging a .360 OBP in 376 plate appearances. He won't be flashy, but in time, Tejada could be a 2.5-3 win player for the Mets, at a far lower salary than the $17.7 million Reyes will get from the Marlins. And don't forget that because of injuries, Reyes averaged only 3.1 WARP over the past three seasons.

Many teams have fallen into the trap of rebuilding while attempting to contend, and most of them have learned that a wholehearted commitment to the former would have served them better down the road. Financial woes aside, Alderson and his staff have the Mets on the right track. Fighting a bidding war with the Marlins would have been a costly detour.

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I am enjoying the BP First Take series. Keep up the good work. Nice addition to the website.
Every Mets fan I know needs to read this. Get over it, folks, Wilpon doesn't have the cash to commit $106 million to a guy who gets hurt for months at a time every season. Alderson will rebuild the club, just give him some time.
Most Mets fans are aware that letting Reyes go was the right decision. It's the decision not to have traded him in July that kills us, since this turn of events was so obviously foreseeable.
It is actually $111 million. There is a 7th year option which, if the Marlins don't pick it up, they buy him out for another $5 over and above the $106 in slaray for 6 years.

Mets attendance will drop by 25% this year (off an already low figure)
"giving Alderson—or his successor—the flexibility to build around the young pitching in a ballpark where Wheeler and Harvey should thrive ..."

We shall see about that ballpark.
Just to be fair since I'd mentioned it elsewhere, it's not appropriate to average Reyes's last three seasons considering he only played 36 games in 2009. In essence, by averaging his WARP, you're diminishing his value.

That's a good point, though given his history, there's a nonzero chance that Reyes will miss a considerable portion of 2012 or a future season during the deal.

Also, my point on Reyes vs. Tejada still stands: $16.67 million for Reyes vs. roughly the league minimum for Tejada is shrewd from the Mets' perspective, even if Reyes outperforms him by 1-2 wins more than the diminished average suggests.

Your point stands about the Reyes vs Tejada idea. I agree the Mets, since they are probably not contenders at this point, would be better served with Tejada.

Still, just to be a stickler about arguments, you played a word game by implying that his production over the three years was a true measure of his talent when it wasn't.

From another word game perspective, technically there's a nonzero chance that any player signed to a multiyear contract will miss a considerable portion of 2012 or a future season regardless of their history. You could have simply said "Reyes' chances are higher than most".
Light at the end of the tunnel, but Fred and Jeff can look forward to losing 100M next year because no one is going to watch this team. Hopefully a couple more years of massive financial losses will result in the Coupons selling the team.
The Mets haven't drawn less than 2MM since 1997; last time they were below 1MM was in 1981. They definitely get megabucks for their TV package, so they won't be hurting. (The "$75MM loss" in 2011 is likely an accounting trick.) In the modern era, rebuilding is a fact of life. A New York team has the revenue potential to do it at least as well as any other team, assuming they do it in a smart way. They can always pay for the free agents necessary to accelerate the process.