Despite the specter of what is reported to be “at least” a 60-game suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy hanging over his head and a significant amount of money remaining on his contract, Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes still has some trade interest around the league, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier this morning that Reyes’ suspension could be announced today, and several others in the media have since heard the same, which would seem to suggest that the league will indeed announce a punishment for Reyes, who was arrested and had criminal charges filed against him last October due to allegations of abuse from his wife. Reyes was slated to face a trial on Opening Day, but the charges were dropped in late March because his wife was no longer cooperating with the investigation. He’s been on paid administrative leave for the entirety of the 2016 season while MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred investigates the matter. Per Rosenthal’s report, instead of serving an additional 60 unpaid days on top of his paid leave, Reyes will be required to pay back the money that he has earned thus far in 2016 and then serve out the remainder of the length of the suspension (also without pay, of course).
It’s somewhat surprising to hear any rumblings of trade interest in Reyes. In addition to the deeply concerning allegations of abuse, he’s owed $39.945MM through the end of the 2017 season, assuming a 60-game suspension. That’s no small price for any player, let alone one with this type of off-field issues and one whose most recent on-field activity resulted in a .274/.310/.378 batting line despite splitting the season between two of the game’s best environments for offense (Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Denver’s Coors Field). Metrics like OPS+ and wRC+, which are weighted based on a player’s home park and league, felt that Reyes’ overall offensive contribution was 16 to 20 percent worse than that of a league average bat in 2015. Beyond that, he’s also received negative ratings from both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved in each of the past seven seasons for his work at shortstop.
Reyes, who will turn 33 two days after Colorado plays its 60th game of the season (June 11), was productive at the plate as recently as 2014, and batted a solid .289/.342/.419 from 2012-14 between the Marlins and Blue Jays. One also has to imagine that given his off-field issues and the meteoric rise of his replacement, Trevor Story, the Rockies would be willing to eat a portion of the salary that remains on Reyes’ contract. Alternatively, the Rockies could show a willingness to take on a similarly undesirable contract from another club. Speculating further, a rebuilding club could agree to take on a significant portion of Reyes’ contract as a means of persuading the Rockies to include a meaningful prospect or two in the trade, then simply cut bait on Reyes.
It remains possible that a team (or multiple teams) would have interest in adding Reyes to its roster and hoping for a return to form at the plate. The Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Reds this offseason as he was dealing with his own domestic violence allegations, although Chapman is a cheaper, more productive player than Reyes and never had criminal charges filed against him. In spite of that, the return for Chapman was widely considered to be light. If there is indeed some degree of trade interest in Reyes, I’d expect that it’s conditional on significant financial/prospect incentive being included in the deal for the acquiring team and very little, if anything, going back to the Rockies in terms of young talent.