Look, I understand that trading Jose Reyes should NOT be the first, or second, or third option (for the health of us fans, at least).
But the idea gets floated around in the mainstream media so much that it isn't a ludicrous idea that Reyes will indeed be traded.
If Reyes is traded, the front office needs to get a fair market deal or better. First of all, we'd have to analyze a few things.
1. The Baseline
Assuming we keep Jose Reyes and let him go at the end of the season for two first-round draft picks, we stand to gain at least a little bit of value (although not as much as the loss of Reyes would cost the Mets).
The 2011 draft is particularly deep. However, sadly, the average (15th) pick that we would receive as compensation for Reyes would be worth about 2.38 WAR over the first six years of his career. The sandwich pick would be worth approximately 1.42 WAR over the first six years of his career. This is quite frankly an unacceptable return for Jose. It would be better to sign Reyes, pay him fair market value, and keep fans in the seats. If we're going to trade Reyes for anything, it must be prospects in accordance with Reyes's status as an elite shortstop.
2. The Teams
Pretty much every contender save the Rockies, Marlins, and (debatably) the Phillies would experience a significant upgrade playing Reyes at shortstop. However, we should focus on only the contenders with needs. These would be the Giants (current shortstop, Miguel Tejada/Mike Fontenot, -0.5 WAR/???), Kansas City (current shortstop, Alcides Escobar, 0.0 WAR), Cardinals (current shortstop, Ryan Theriot, 0.2 WAR), and Brewers (current "shortstop", Yuniesky Betancourt (-0.1 WAR). Currently, Jose Reyes leads all major league shortstops in WAR with 1.8. Extrapolating this performance over the entire season, Reyes would be worth another 6.76 wins over the rest of the year. Reyes is not likely to maintain this level of performance, but another 4-5 wins for Reyes is about what we should expect. For a team such as the San Francisco Giants, a boost of 4-5 wins (or more, based on the fact that the Giants are currently playing below-replacement level players at shortstop) would significantly increase their chance of making the playoffs, which would be worth an additional $28 million or more in revenue (numbers taken from Baseball Beyond The Numbers). Reyes would also sell additional tickets. Perhaps most importantly, these wins are going to be very hard to find at any other position besides shortstop for San Francisco and the Mets are the only team with a shortstop of Reyes' caliber potentially on the trading block. Given that Reyes has already been worth $8.1 million dollars, the 2/3 of a season that Reyes provides could have a market value of $35 million or more to the Giants. With this in mind, let's see what the Giants could possibly offer the Mets.
At the moment, the likely key piece in any Reyes deal would be Zach Wheeler, a hard-throwing 20 year old starter with three plus pitches and a good ground-ball ratio. The average top pitching prospect is worth around $14 million according to evaluations on minorleagueball.com. The Giants would have to offer significantly more than Wheeler to acquire Reyes, even for 2/3 of a season. The other interesting piece that the Giants have is shortstop Ehire Adrianza, who fields well but is pretty punchless at the plate - think Ruben Tejada with a better glove and a few more walks, or Chin-Lung Hu with a slightly better bat. He's probably a $2 million dollar piece at best, even if you like the bat more than most. The Giants don't have enough to offer, unless they offer Brandon Belt in some sort of three-way deal (the Mets already have a pretty decent first baseman).
We then move on to the Cardinals. The Cardinals would experience a similar boost in playoff probability to the Giants upon acquiring Reyes. However, they too have somewhat limited options. Their best hitting prospect, Zack Cox, plays third base and is literally untradeable as he was a 2010 draftee. Shelby Miller has been deemed practically untouchable by the Cardinals organization, but he'd be the one piece that would provide a suitable return for Reyes. Even if you value Miller at $20 million, a quite generous evaluation, the Cardinals would have to throw literally every pitcher in their organization not drafted in 2010 to provide enough value for Reyes. If the Mets are able to get Miller and 3 other mid-tier prospects, a deal should definitely be considered, especially considering that they can potentially resign Reyes after the 2011 season. Otherwise, the Cardinals do not look like the best option.
The Brewers are already depleted. Nothing they'd have to offer would interest the Mets.
This leaves the Royals. The Royals are an incredibly unlikely contender, but in the AL Central, the flukey Indians are currently on top and the rest of the division appears to be stinking up the joint. Also, unlike the rest of the teams that would be interested in an elite shortstop, the Royals have prospects. And a lot of them. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer aren't as useful to the Mets and likely untouchable. However, with the tremendous Jeff "Wonderboy" Francouer in right field, the converted catcher Wil Myers appears to be the most expendable of the top three KC hitting prospects. Honestly, if the Mets could get Myers and one mid-tier prospects (Johnny Giavotella, Tim Melville... Chris Dwyer would be somewhat of a reach) for Reyes, they should pull the trigger. The Royals would be a good destination for Reyes for two reasons - one, the Royals are unlikely to resign Reyes after the season because of financial issues, and two - if the Royals are going to make any sort of run in 2011, Reyes would be a huge addition to them. Yes, the Royals are an extremely unlikely destination for Reyes, but they're the only ones with the chips to play the Reyes sweepstakes (again, barring a bizarre Belt deal). Also, Dayton Moore is stupid. Try to convince Moore that Reyes played for the Braves and he might throw up Moustakas, Myers, Danny Duffy, John Lamb, and Kaufmann Stadium, because none of them ever played for Atlanta.
Do not deal Reyes unless you can get an uberprospect in return. However, in these cases, 2/3 of a season of Reyes isn't quite as valuable as a player who has a high probability of being a key player in 2012 and beyond. Most teams besides the Cardinals and Royals do not have this kind of player. In the Cardinals case, they would have to give up more than this player, Shelby Miller, to reach the fair market value for Reyes. In the unlikely event that the Royals are buyers, they have more than enough players to package for Jose Reyes.
A sadder conclusion: Reyes' market value is also depressed because all the teams that are in dire need of a shortstop also have bad farm systems.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Dayton Moore jokes to make.
What was DMGM's favorite period of American history? Atlantabellum.
What's DMGM's favorite class of drug? Atlantacids.
What's DMGM's favorite kind of singing? Scatlanta.