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 RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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