It's not often that five-tool middle infielders hit free agency in their prime. Jose Reyes has a .329/.372/.485 line with 35 stolen bases and a league-leading 16 triples this season, so, despite his history of getting hurt, he will draw plenty of attention when he hits the free agent market this winter. Here's an early look at 13 possible suitors for the 28-year-old, who will cost any team but the Mets a top draft pick in 2012...
- Mets - Reyes has repeatedly stated his interest in staying in New York and the Mets appear to be open to bringing him back. They aren’t likely to offer seven years, but they figure to be involved until the end.
- Giants - Brandon Crawford could step in next year, while Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss figure to be reserves if they're back in 2012. On paper, the Giants are one of the best fits for Reyes, who would make the San Francisco lineup much more intimidating.
- Nationals - Despite Ian Desmond's presence at short, the Nationals could be a factor in the Reyes bidding this offseason. They’ve already been linked to Reyes in speculative looks ahead to the offseason.
- Phillies - Jimmy Rollins hits free agency after the season and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has never been one to shy away from the best players out there.
- Tigers - Jhonny Peralta has had a banner year for Detroit, but he has lots of experience at third base, so the Tigers could move him back to the hot corner to create space. Reyes would seem to be a fit for spacious Comerica Park.
- Reds - There are no guarantees for Paul Janish or Edgar Renteria in 2012. Zack Cozart is a logical internal shortstop candidate for Cincinnati, assuming he recovers from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow and is ready for Spring Training 2012. But would the Reds really offer Reyes more money than they’ve spent on any player since Ken Griffey Jr.?
- Twins - In a way, the Twins don't pass the sniff test as a possible suitor for Reyes. They've already committed $65MM to next year's team and it's hard to imagine them carrying two $20MM players. But there's room for improvement in a middle infield that now features Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert.
- Angels - If the Angels want to make a splash, they could sign Reyes and trade Erick Aybar. They don't have a pressing need at short, however.
- Braves - It seems more likely that the Braves will work out a deal with Alex Gonzalez, but they do have an opening at short this winter.
- Cardinals - The Cardinals are interested in re-signing Rafael Furcal and would like to see what former first rounder Tyler Greene can do. Bringing Albert Pujols back figures to be the Cards' top offseason priority, so a run at Reyes seems unlikely.
- Brewers - Like the Cardinals, the Brewers have room for improvement at shortstop. Adding Reyes could help make up for the possible loss of free agent Prince Fielder.
- Red Sox - The Red Sox are big spenders, but it's not easy to imagine their front office signing another position player to a nine figure deal so soon after locking Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez up. It's possible, since Marco Scutaro won't necessarily return and Reyes offers far more pop than Jose Iglesias.
- Astros - Clint Barmes hits free agency, so the Astros will have an opening at short. It would be incredibly surprising to see Houston pursue such an expensive player after losing 100 games, especially since incoming owner Jim Crane is expected to lower payroll if and when the team's ownership transfer finally goes through.