Considering the season he´s been having so far in 2011 - and over the past 6 years of his career - I´m pretty sure, Jose Reyes deserves and will get Carl Crawford money. Be it from the Mets or be it from some other team. And looking at his performance, not only this year but also in the healthy 2006-2008 span, that´s justified for a 28-year-old player who is having a breakout or career season, already with a 5+ WAR at the halfway point of the 2011 season.
Sure, I´d be very happy if the team manages to limit the length to 5 or 6 years and possibly exceeds the annual value, or builds in a vesting option or two. That said, if push came to shove, I´d give Reyes the contract he has earned, not only in 2011 but also by performing well over his previous salary level in the past and also giving longterm hope to an otherwise still disenfranchised fan base. And rightfully being the or at least one key face of the franchise.
Sure, there´s risk involved. Reyes blows out his knee(s), loses his drive, gets seriously hurt in a collision, etc. However, the upside is that the Mets have a homegrown franchise player in his prime at a position of offensive scarcity where even the subpar injury-derailed 2009 / 2010 version of Reyes is still a well above average player.
If you believe Reyes is too risky to sign longterm, then don´t expect the Mets to ever sign any player to a longterm deal over 3 years again.
Plus, looking forward, even assuming the K-Rod option vests, beyond the 42.5 mio $ or so that are already shaved off this winter by not retaining Beltran, Capuano and Chris Young (plus the salary relief from Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo and Gary Matthews jr, gulp); K-Rod´s 17.5 mio $ in 2012 will be off the payroll guaranteed after 2012 and a rousing 65+ mio will be off quite possibly after 2013 when Santana, Bay, Wright, Pelfrey and RA Dickey (assuming the Mets use the club option they have on him for 2013) can all file for free agency if no extension is reached on an individual basis before or Bay´s 2014 option vests. Overall, that´s close to 120 mio $ worth of annual committments coming off within the next 3 years. Which should create enormous financial flexibility going forward, especially if the Mets use their resources in a better way.
So, for a team with a 120 mio $ or so budget going forward and - beyond the "expensive 6" - a roster loaded with mostly youngish 1st and 2nd year players right now that won´t hit the more costly arbitration years until 2013, the obligations beyond 2013 are very small right now - and more than 70 mio $ less than what the Phillies have already committed to 4 players in their mid to late 30s for 2014 (Halladay assuming vesting option kicks in, R.Howard, C.Lee and C.Utley).
So, if you structure a Reyes deal something like this:
2012: 16 mio
2013: 18 mio
2014: 20 mio
2015: 21.5 mio
2016: 21.5 mio
2017: 21.5 mio
2018: 21.5 mio
and maybe add a 3-mio $ buyout or a club option 2019 at 21.5 mio $ again, that´s a 7-year, 143 mio $ guaranteed deal, actually exceeding Carl Crawford by a million overall - but being very manageable if you look at the big picture payroll-wise.
Again, I understand there´s risk involved. However, "Moneyball" in a large market means that you pay big for elite players, get roster fillers on the cheap (like the Mets did with Paulino, Capuano and others last winter) and try to use financial advantages in the draft and International signings to create a deep system that can a) bring on inexpensive talent (like the Mets have already managed to do in 2010/2011 with Niese, Gee, Davis, Tejada and others) and b) be a resource for interesting trade bait to acquire elite players before they hit free agency (like the Red Sox have done in the past to acquire stars like Adrian Gonzalez or Josh Beckett).
Reyes also seems like a better bet to remain at his current performance level over the next 5 to 7 years than - for example - Prince Fielder due to body size (think Mo Vaughn or Jason Giambi) or even Albert Pujols (look at his age and think A-Rod). And I´m pretty sure Pujols will get closer to an 8-year, 200 mio $ deal and Fielder will probably land a deal similar to "Crawford" money as well.
So, as cornerstone 1 of the longterm Mets, this move needs to happen. And the Mets should not play any games or be in delusional hopes for convincing Reyes to sign for 5-years, 90 mio $. That´s the contract extension Ichiro Suzuki - a somewhat similar player with less pop and a less demanding defensive position - got from Seattle after 2007 at age 34 that takes him into 2012.