How Much Will Reyes’ Injuries Cost Him?

Jose Reyes will become a free agent this offseason. The Mets’ shortstop looks to make quite a bit of cash, but his recent injuries might limit what teams are willing to pay.

From 2005 to 2008, Reyes averaged 157 games a year. During that time, he averaged 5.2 WAR per season and accumulated the thirteenth-highest combined WAR among all players. His wOBA was .347.

Over the past three years, though, it has been a different story. Reyes looks to average around 100 games played per season. The decrease in days comes from four trips to the disabled list and dozens of games missed because of smaller injuries. Even though his .353 wOBA is higher than his four previous seasons, he has only averaged 2.9 WAR per season.

When it comes to teams looking at him on the free market, are they going to value him as a reliable, everyday player or as the oft-injured shortstop we’ve come to know? Assuming that his base running and fielding will be league average, here’s his projected WAR for playing 150 games and getting 600PA or 100 playing games and seeing 450 PA.

wOBA WAR (150G/600PA) WAR (100G/450PA)
0.325 2.1 1.5
0.350 3.5 2.4
0.375 4.5 3.4

If teams think he’s only going to be available for 100 games a season, Reyes might not get the same payday as he would had he been healthy. Instead, a team might discount his value to the tune of around 1 win (WAR) per season. With the going rate of $5 million per win on the open market, his injury history could cost him about $20 million on a four-year contract. That’s some serious cash. If Reyes is a .350 WOBA player looking for five years at 2.5 WAR per year, his contract could be around $62.5 million. A 3.5 WAR/year production would put his contract near $87.5 million.

Reyes says he wants a $100 million — or larger — contract. It might be tough for him to get that. Historically, teams usually don’t spend large amounts of money on players with checkered medical pasts. Looking at the 16 position players* who’ve signed contracts in excess of $100 million since 2002, only two of those players spent time on the DL the previous season. But they’re two pretty big names: Troy Tulowitzki and Joe Mauer. In those cases, though both men signed with their original team. The Rockies and Twins knew their work ethic and the nature of their injuries.

If I were a team interested in Reyes, I’d first see how interested the Mets are in him. If the Mets aren’t offering a large contract, I would be leery of giving him one.

The time Reyes has missed this year will probably cost him some money this off-season. How much depends on the playing time that teams think they can get out of him. So what can Reyes do in the meantime? It’s pretty simple: get on the field, play hard and give interested teams a one-month audition. Oh, and don’t get injured.

* Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, Troy Tulowitzki, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Carl Crawford, Todd Helton, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells, Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Lee. I looked at player only since 2002 because DL information is only available for 2001 and later.

All salary information is taken from Cot’s Baseball Contracts

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

18 Responses to “How Much Will Reyes’ Injuries Cost Him?”

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  1. tom says:

    no mention on the monster year he was having this year before the hamstring injuries cropped up again eh?

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    • Pat says:

      I think that’s common knowledge at this point. He produces when he’s on the field but he’s had an injury each of the past few seasons. Tough to give out a huge long term deal to a guy that gets shelved every year.

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  2. RC says:

    I’d be really surprised if Reyes took 4/20. I think if team’s are offering him that, he’ll take a 1 year somewhere, and try to put up another big year.

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  3. Fiesta says:

    Braun’s extension this summer was 5 years, $105 mil, but that was an extension, not a new contract. It seems like he gets hurt for a bit every summer, and plays a position with less premium and worse defense. I wouldn’t be surprised for Reyes to get 100/5 with that 100 million being loaded with incentives based on plate appearances or games played.

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    • Matt says:

      Not really a good comparison. Braun has missed 11, 4, 5, and 11 games 2008-2011, his only 4 full seasons in the majors. Reyes (after being durable his first few seasons) has missed a big majority of 2009 (129 games), 29 games last year, and 32 games so far this year.

      Also, while Reyes plays a more valuable position, and is better at doing so, Braun is a significantly better hitter (career wRC+ 111 vs. 148).

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  4. Arthur Xavier Corvelay says:

    Reyes would seem to be a good candidate for a less years / higher average salary contract. With his injury history, teams will be wary of giving him 5-7 years. He could ask for a 4-year only deal, but with a higher average salary than he would get with a longer contract. The upside for him would be that he is only be 32 after the 2015 season, and if he continues to produce could possibly score one more big multi-year contract that he would not get coming off a longer initial contract.

    Re DL and big deals, Tulo was on DL in 2010 b/c he was hit by a pitch, which he clearly recovered from fine (the late homer binge). I imagine this the least-concerning type of injury when considering a long-term deal, since really just a random occurence that does not suggest any sort of susceptibility to injury. And the Mauer contract already looks pretty terrible.

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  5. Dunston says:

    I think Reyes’ age (he turned 28), premium position, and marketability will bump him up closer to the 5/100 range than historical precedent might suggest. These types of players don’t show up every year.

    I also suspect that a team looking to make a splash in the off-season could think they know how to “fix” Reyes, since outside of his lost 2009, his injuries have been more of the nagging sort than serious, surgery-required issues.

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  6. cs3 says:

    How much of the blame goes to the Mets incompetent training staff?
    Perhaps if he had spent the past few seasons in another organization he would have missed far fewer games due to “lingering” injuries.

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  7. LionoftheSenate says:

    How clever and ballsy would it be for Milwaukee to take the Prince Fielder money and offer Reyes a contract? The Brewers would see a larger upgrade at SS than probably every other team in baseball and it would allow them to compete, possibly defend their division title again in 2012.

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    • joser says:

      It’s a clever idea, but who do they also sign to play the other ~60 or so games when Reyes is on the DL? Do they keep Yuni around for that? Maybe they can get Jack Wilson to hang around one more year as a cheap backup.

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  8. Ousy says:

    Does fangraphs have former MLB players contribute to the website? Or is this not the one time Rangers all-star?

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  9. DJLetz says:

    Here’s a key question, though–who do people expect are going to be bidding for Reyes, anyway? The Yankees will have the money, but they’re probably best off keeping Jeter at short rather than sticking him elsewhere; the Red Sox have made their big expenditures already; Philly will revolt if Rollins isn’t re-signed; both Chicago teams have young guys they probably want to keep, as do Texas and Detroit; St. Louis probably needs all the money it’s got to keep Pujols; the Dodgers have obvious financial problems. I suppose the Angels might make a move, but they’re operating on high payroll already and have a fair amount committed to overpaid guys–can they find room? Do the Giants want to risk another big-money contract before Rowand and Zito run out? Can the Reds add payroll safely? Is some team going to come out of nowhere, like Washington for Jayson Werth? If the Mets are the only ones seriously bidding, that’ll obviously affect the price…

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  10. Scout Finch says:

    Giants will have a 2012 payroll of 120 million without Reyes.

    Would ownership go all in next year while their window is open and before Lincecum and Cain hit FA ?

    Could structure a backloaded 5 year deal with Reyes to mitigate the Rowand/Zito contracts tied around their necks.

    Dunno. How big of players will the Giants be considering their farm prospects at SS are all glove and the team offense leaves much to be desired?

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