The New York Mets have a critical offseason ahead of them. Retaining Jose Reyes has more perks than at first glance.
“Jose, Jose, Jose,” were the chants that rang around Shea Stadium for many years when Jose Reyes was a core piece of the New York Mets. One of the game’s most exciting players and a fan favorite, the energy he brought was unlike any other player on the diamond. Now at age 34, Reyes’s career is at a crossroads: his prime is well in the past and his contract expires at season’s end.
The Mets haven’t given any indication of whether Reyes will wear orange and blue next season. While some people see an aging star whose best days are well behind him, Reyes still has plenty to give to the game, and the Mets should consider keeping him at home.
Reyes has already expressed his interest in finishing his career in New York, telling reporters, “Do I want to finish my career here? One hundred percent,” before squaring off against Cincinnati last week at Citi Field. Not every story has a happy ending, but let’s look at the argument for Reyes’s return to Queens.
Outside of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets have holes at second and third base. Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera figure to be factors in some capacity to the 2018 infield, but neither figures to play full time. Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini could have roles, while it’s uncertain whether the Mets will exercise Asdrubal Cabrera’s team option.
Reyes can play second and third, providing the Mets with options should they need them. He’s at a point in his career where he knows he might not start everyday, thus making his platoon type role sensible for the player and the club.
His veteran presence could also serve well for what figures to be a mostly youthful infield.
It’s evident that Reyes wants to be with the Mets. He also has played at below replacement level for the past three seasons (-.4 total WAR from 2015-2017) so his expected contract shouldn’t be a back breaker for the financially handicapped Mets.
Sandy Alderson already stated he wouldn’t commit to matching the team’s approximate $155 million payroll from 2017 making Reyes an inexpensive option that can play multiple positions and switch hit.
Amed Rosario could very well be the future of the franchise. The parallels to Reyes are nearly identical: both came up as shortstops, both are from the Dominican Republic, and both were at some point considered the top prospects of the Mets organization. It’s easy to see Reyes watching himself in Rosario going through the same trials and tribulations of being a young player new to the big league level.
His clubhouse leadership over a player that is essential to the Mets future may not be something that appears statistically but is invaluable in baseball currency. If you haven’t noticed, the two already have a great relationship.
Reyes may not be the all star caliber player he once was, but he still can perform adequately. After a paltry .215 first half, many people thought Reyes was nearing the end of his career. However, he quietly has hit .290 (per Fangraphs) in the second half, still playing with energy during a lost season.
Several months ago, Jose Reyes looked like he was on his way out of New York for good. Now, he might just have something left to give to the franchise that he loves.