The reawakening of Jose Reyes

With a strong 2011, Jose Reyes could put himself in some elite fiscal company. Getty Images

Potential is a tricky word as it applies to athletes. When you're young, you want to be described as having a lot of it. However, once you reach a certain point, it starts to have a negative connotation. And until the consensus is reached by the masses that you've fulfilled your potential, the fact that you haven't hangs over your entire career.

Among modern baseball players, none has had a more complicated relationship with the word "potential" than New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who is one of the most dynamic athletes in the game but has been a disappointment in the eyes of many fans.

The 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract with New York, and with the Mets' money issues in the wake of the latest Bernie Madoff news, Buster Olney recently wrote that rival executives are convinced Reyes will be traded this summer because the Mets won't be able to re-sign him.

Traded or not, if we're to assume Reyes won't be a Met in 2012, we can make a reasonable guess about where he might end up. And while the common perception is that Reyes hasn't been all that he could be, by some metrics he should be the most well-compensated free agent next winter this side of Albert Pujols. That's what makes his 2011 season one of baseball's more intriguing storylines.