A Silver Lining From the Jose Reyes Injury

When Jose Reyes slid awkwardly into second base in Kansas City on Friday night and twisted his ankle badly enough that it will keep him out until July, it wasn’t just Toronto Blue Jays fans who feared that a season already off to a poor start was quickly about to get worse. Fantasy players who had spent a high draft pick or a sizable amount of auction dollars on Reyes were suddenly left with a giant hole to fill, and few options at a shallow position to fill it. Using a random 12-team ESPN league I’m in as an example, the best available shortstops on the waiver wire today are Everth Cabrera, Pete Kozma, and Marwin Gonzalez. That’s a pretty big step down from Reyes no matter how you slice it.

However, this isn’t all bad news from a fantasy perspective. Rather than simply slide the next man in to replace Reyes, as the Yankees have done with Eduardo Nunez while Derek Jeter is out, the Blue Jays are planning to engage in a game of musical chairs that will shuffle a few pieces of their lineup into greater fantasy relevance.

To be clear, no: I’m not talking about Munenori Kawasaki, who started at shortstop in each of the first two games Reyes missed. The 32-year-old had a single extra base hit and a .459 OPS in 115 plate appearances for Seattle last season, and isn’t to be considered a fantasy option even under the most extreme circumstances. But Kawasaki’s tenure is likely to be limited, because the current expectation is that Maicer Izturis — who has already started five games at third base and four at second — will slide over to short and collect the bulk of playing time.

In theory, that would open up more time for Emilio Bonifacio to play second base, as he did in eight of the first ten games of the season. But the Jays appear to have something else up their sleeves — third baseman Brett Lawrie, recovering from a rib cage injury, is now seeing time at second while rehabbing in the Florida State League. Lawrie came up as a second baseman in the minors, though he hasn’t played there since 2010. He’s expected to return to the Jays later this week and might pick up second base eligibility quickly if he proves he can handle it. Second base is one of the thinner offensive positions — in ESPN leagues, Daniel Murphy & Dan Uggla both have 100% ownership, so another option would be more than welcome.

If Lawrie is at second, that keeps third base open, and the answer there is not “Mark DeRosa“. The Jays have started Jose Bautista there in each of the last two days, and it won’t take much more for him to gain eligibility as well. That’s important because Bautista didn’t make a single start at the hot corner in 2012, costing him eligibility there. Third base, as we’ve seen with injuries to David Freese, Chase Headley, Hanley Ramirez, and others, is another position lacking in talent. Fantasy owners with plenty of outfielders but few acceptable infield options might just wake up in a few days to find themselves with the unexpected gift of being able to stash Bautista at third for the rest of the season.

With Bautista spending more time in the infield, right field is likely to fall to Bonifacio and Rajai Davis. That’s a big boost for Davis, who has been one of the most prolific basestealers in the league for the past several years, but who had seemed likely to lose playing time once newcomer Melky Cabrera joined Colby Rasmus & Bautista in the outfield. As a cheap source of speed and runs, Davis gains back some of his lost fantasy relevance and is deserving of a spot in deep mixed leagues and most AL-only circuits.

Remember, this isn’t a situation that has to last all season for it to be of use. At some point, Reyes will return, Lawrie will be at third base, and Bautista will be back in the outfield. But the newfound eligibility won’t go away, and so fantasy players can take solace at some small silver lining coming out of a bad situation.

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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times site, and is an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.

21 Responses to “A Silver Lining From the Jose Reyes Injury”

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  1. Todd says:

    So, my biggest expenditure of the auction goes down, but the silver lining is that some other owners will gain some positional eligibility? I feel so much better…

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    • Jim says:

      If Jose Reyes was your biggest auction expenditure, that’s your own fault. I’m not a Mets fan, but my Mets fans friends considered him the second coming of Pete Reiser as a talented player who just could not stay on the field — look at his games played from 2009-2011. And now he’s 30? I would have put the o/u on his games played going into the season at 100, and I would have had series doubts about taking the over.

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      • TK says:

        The second coming of Pete Reiser? There’s a name for a fantasy team.

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      • Mark says:

        You have serious doubts about taking the over on 100 games on Reyes, a player who since 2009 has only played less than 120 games once? That’s a pretty lousy bet if you ask me. He’s averaged 140 games over the past 3 years – 160, 126 and 133 games.

        I mean it’s one thing to say he’s injury prone, fine. But having doubts about going over 100 games on Reyes is pretty crazy.

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      • CP says:

        Well if you took that bet you were pretty much a fool, as Reyes has played at least 126 games per season in every year save one. And last year he played 160.

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  2. Nick says:

    Could also pave the way for Gose…

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  3. cnote66 says:

    I traded Izturis last week for song… sigh…

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    • jrogers says:

      Who is Song? A Taiwanese pitcher I haven’t heard of?

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      • Jon says:

        That’s correct. He’s got great rhythm on the mound and a harmonious selection of pitches. He’s not going to put up big numbers, but at auction time you can pick him up for… well, not much.

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  4. Powder Blues says:

    Oddly enough, I own both Bautista and Lawrie, and I’m currently suffering through some Kipnis-itis. This might turn out very well for me.

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  5. attgig says:

    My league requires 10 games before the player gains eligibility at the position… Frickin Bonifacio has 9 games at 2b to be eligible….

    Any chance he slides into 2b at some point over the next few days? he was going to be my primary MI option…(though he hasn’t been stealing at all…)

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    • 96mnc says:

      If your league requires 10 games for MI eligibility Boni should be usable there already – 9 games at 2B, 1 @ SS this year.

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  6. NatsFan73 says:

    As a Lawrie owner, I wholeheartedly endorse this event or product!

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  7. Todd says:

    And I just traded Chris Davis for Ryan Zimmerman because I needed a 3rd baseman… I have Bautista. Oh well. A good problem to have, I guess.

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  8. James says:

    Geez, what a lousy article.

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    • Mike Petriello says:

      appreciate the constructive criticism.

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      • Jonathan Sher says:

        To be more specific, Mike, you wrote of a silver lining as if those who drafted or owned Reyes would be benefit from Bautista gaining 3B eligibility and Bonifacio and Davis getting more playing time.

        But the reality is this:

        (1) In a shallow 12 team lead Bautista is already owned and there is at least a 92% chance he is owned by someone other than the owner who lost Reyes. ( I say “at least” because someone who used an early pick or big auction bucks to get Reyes is less likely to have also obtained Bautista). Also, in a shallow league, it’s arguable whether a platooning Bonifacio/Davis is rosterable; even if one or both are, depending on league rules, another team may end up picking up that benefit.

        (2) In a deeper league like mine (12-team A.L. with 40 man rosters) all of those players are already owned along with anyone with a remote chance of benefiting from the absence of Reyes.

        You are right that the loss of a star player always means more opportunity for other players. But you seem to assume that benefit will go to the owner that lost Reyes, when in fact, the benefit, if any will in most cases go to rival owners.

        In short, that is not a silver lining. That is a thunderstorm of fantasy baseball pain.

        PS — I agree James would contribute more if he offered specifics.

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      • majnun says:

        It’s a silver lining to fantasy baseballers, not Reyes owners. It’s sad to see someone hurt, but fun to see someone gain eligibility.

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      • Mike Petriello says:

        Jonathan — thanks for that. Totally agree that Bautista & Lawrie aren’t very likely to be available. What I meant was, and I suppose I could have been more clear, is that for owners who already have them (or those looking to trade for them) this increases their appeal. I never really said that this was anything but bad news for Reyes owners.

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