Where will you go, Jose Reyes?
Welcome to speculation season. Various reports Wednesday pegged San Francisco as a possible trade destination for Mets shortstop Jose Reyes — which it is. But the reigning World Series champions are hardly alone in their desire. To nab Reyes at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, a team must be both in contention and in need of a shortstop — a rare combination that eliminates two-thirds of the league at first glance.
Current SS: Miguel Tejada
The Giants have a clear need with an anemic offense, no true leadoff hitter, and an aging and unproductive starting shortstop in Tejada. Hardly a Moneyball disciple, general manager Brian Sabean is also unlikely to fret over Reyes’ history of low on-base percentages. But if a bidding war is in the offing, the Giants may fall short — their farm system remains thin beyond top first base prospect Brandon Belt.
Current SS: Yuniesky Betancourt
The Brewers could use someone to set the table for sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. But they also have greater needs — pitching, anyone? — and if they fall out of the race in the NL Central, the small-market Brewers are liable to turn into sellers themselves. Like the Giants, they also have a weak farm system, widely considered to be the league’s worst.
Current SS: Ryan Theriot
Acquiring Reyes would allow the Cardinals to shift Theriot down in the lineup and over to second base, improving their team in more ways than one. But they already have four dynamic offensive players in Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Colby Rasmus; like the Brewers, the Cards may be more interested in shoring up their rotation.
Current SS: Paul Janish
Put Reyes in Cincinnati, and the Reds suddenly become clear favorites to repeat as NL Central champions. But given their rotation struggles, they may also mirror their division rivals, the Cardinals, in prioritizing a pitcher.
Current SS: Jamey Carroll
It’s unclear how Major League Baseball’s takeover of the Dodgers’ day-to-day operations will affect their ability to take on salary at the deadline. If the Dodgers can indeed spend, they’d be an ideal trade partner for the Mets: a big-market team with playoff aspirations, a glaring lack of middle infield punch and a strong-enough farm system.
Current SS: Jhonny Peralta
As in St. Louis, acquiring Reyes would allow the Tigers to shift their current shortstop to second base. But if former top prospect Scott Sizemore pans out in Detroit, the Tigers may be more inclined to allocate their resources elsewhere. A big outfield bat may be a more pressing concern.
Current SS: Erick Aybar
As long as the Angels remain unwilling to expose young center fielder Peter Bourjos to the leadoff spot, they could use a player such as Reyes. Their need is not glaring. But Reyes could be enough to vault them past the Rangers in a crowded AL West, and the Angels possess a deep enough cache of prospects to outbid almost anyone.
Current SS: Cliff Pennington
A longshot, considering the team’s perennial small payroll and general manager Billy Beane’s affinity for on-base percentage. But Reyes would still represent a major upgrade over Pennington by any measurement, and the A’s do have the ability to take on some payroll. If they’re in serious contention come July, it’s not impossible.
Current SS: Alexi Casilla
It’s clear the Twins are in need of an offensive jolt, and it’s clear that Reyes would be a major upgrade over Casilla. But after adding significant payroll in recent years by signing several key players to long-term contracts, they would the Twins would be unlikely to pursue Reyes in free agency. That makes a trade for the shortstop unlikely, as well.
Team: Red Sox
Current SS: Jed Lowrie
If Lowrie continues to produce at his current clip, this may be a moot point. But the Red Sox are never shy about trading for top talent, and despite the Adrian Gonzalez trade, they still have several intriguing arms in their system. Toss their deep pockets into the equation and they could be a match.
Current SS: Derek Jeter
It doesn’t make sense. But it’s the Yankees. Don’t ever count them out, ever.
—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.