How Jose Reyes’ Return Could Affect San Francisco Giants

Aug 31, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes (7) hits a double during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. The Rockies won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes (7) hits a double during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. The Rockies won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /
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When shortstop Jose Reyes returns to the Colorado Rockies from his domestic abuse-related suspension, probably within a month, he won’t have a starting position waiting for him. Trevor Story has stepped into Reyes’ spot and taken hold of it. That leaves the Rockies having to figure out what to do with their high-priced veteran. So, what does this matter to the San Francisco Giants? It matters—especially in terms of how Colorado might remedy the situation.

The Rockies won’t be interested in keeping such a big salary on the bench. Meanwhile, moving him to second base really isn’t an option, because the current starter there, D.J. Le Mahieu, is a low-salaried .300 hitter with speed—no need to displace him.

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And considering that Reyes is still a nice top-of-the-order threat playing a premium position, other teams will be interested in trading for him, probably sooner rather than late July. This is where Giants folks will want to take note.

Reyes was suspended indefinitely during spring training for a domestic violence matter incident involving his wife. The commissioner’s office ruled this week that his suspension will end May 31. He can begin playing in minor league games the next day, with the goal of returning to Major League action about two weeks after that. Reyes passed his physical exam Thursday morning and immediately began taking part in extended spring training drills.

So, as he gets ready to take the field again, possible suitors will be checking on his status. If he ends up in the American League, then no harm to the Giants. The Baltimore Orioles hold the best record in the AL, but they are not getting much production out of shortstop J.J. Hardy anymore, and they lack a true leadoff hitter. Reyes could help in both areas.

Detroit, which also has playoff aspirations, would benefit from replacing light-hitting Jose Iglesias with Reyes’ offensive prowess. The New York Yankees and Tampa Rays don’t exactly have stars at shortstop, though neither team appears playoff-bound and thus probably wouldn’t bother taking on Reyes’ $16 million annual salary. That leaves Baltimore as the best option in the junior circuit—but not necessarily the best fit overall.

In the National League, most teams appear set at shortstop or have top prospects on the way, though there are a few teams that would improve by adding Reyes. A reunion between Reyes and Miami—the team with whom Reyes signed his current six-year contract (now in its fifth year)—is unlikely but plausible, if the Marlins don’t mind taking on the salary and displacing slick-fielding but light-hitting Adeiny Hechavarria.

Philadelphia seems like an odd match, but they could stand to upgrade at shortstop. And while the Phillies are technically in rebuild mode, they are leading the NL East standings. So they have incentive to make immediate improvements—at least for now. But still, it’s an odd match.

No team in the NL Central has a glaring need at short, which leaves the NL West, where the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres could use Reyes. San Diego signed declining Alexei Ramirez in the offseason, essentially out of desperation to staff shortstop with a warm body. So, they could go after Reyes just for the sake of having a quality player at the position.

But the best fit is Arizona. The D-backs are in win-now mode, so they wouldn’t hesitate to acquire Reyes if they thought he could improve their postseason chances. Like several other players mentioned above, current starter Nick Ahmed is an excellent fielder, but he’s not much with the bat. In fact, he is one of the least productive hitters in the Majors.

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With Reyes, Arizona would be strong at every spot in the batting order (save for the pitcher’s spot). That would spell trouble for the first-place Giants, who already have tough tasks in battling Arizona, Colorado and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Reyes in Arizona could mean a few more wins for a contending division rival, while possibly hitting the Giants with an extra loss.