Jose Reyes: Please Follow Lead of Piazza, Leiter

Jose Reyes went 3-4 in Monday’s loss to the Reds and is now tied with Ryan Braun for the NL batting crown at .334. These could be the final games for Reyes in a Mets uniform, as he seems intent on testing the free agent market. He might want to follow the leads of Mike Piazza and Al Leiter, who avoided free agency so they couldn’t receive an offer they couldn’t refuse.

However, if I were the type of guy to partake in sports betting, I would bet that he will not follow their example.

Following the 1998 season both Leiter and Piazza were free agents. Leiter desperately wanted to stay in New York, to play for the team for which the New Jersey native grew up rooting. So he took a four-year, $32 million deal while the Mets still had exclusive negotiating rights with him. Leiter said he signed because he feared that another team would make him a better offer and he would be forced to take it.

Piazza also signed during that exclusive negotiating window, accepting a seven-year, $91 million contract that at the time was the richest in baseball history. I don’t remember what reason Piazza gave for not testing the free agent waters, but clearly he told the Mets what he wanted and the Mets gave it to him. He obviously liked playing in Flushing after being traded in mid-season.

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Now, Reyes says he loves it in New York and wants to stay, so you’d think he would tell the Mets what he wants, and if the Mets give it to him, the deal would be done. However I think he is determined to go to free agency and see what he is worth on the open market.

Ultimately I think Reyes will resign with the Mets. He might even pull a Cliff Lee and turn down the best offer to be where he really wants to be.

Maybe he will listen to Darryl Strawberry who said over the weekend, “I know if I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed. It looks good on the other side, but it’s not always as good as the place that you’re used to. When you’re young, you don’t realize that. For me, I was young and I didn’t realize what New York meant to me.

“So tell Jose that New York is a great place. No matter what, it’s a great place to play. No matter what you have to go through, how difficult it gets, this is the place where you want to play.”

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