Mets fans always have been and always will be captivated by Jose Reyes. During his time in Flushing, he meant so much to Mets fans. He was an exciting leadoff hitter whose speed on the bases was matched only by the speed of his throws to first base. The joy and excitement he showed on the field was only surpassed by they joy and enthusiasm exhibited by the fans who watched him on the field. When he finally became a free agent, he wanted to stay, and Mets fans wanted him to stay. Now, with his future uncertain with his suspension and the rise of Trevor Story in Colorado, there are those who want him to return.
Admittedly, there was a time I would have gladly joined that chorus. Not now.
Let’s start with the practicalities. The Mets have a shortstop, and his name is Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera is a career .267/.329/.411 hitter with a 104 OPS+. With his recent slump, Cabrera is hitting .267/.332/.400 with a 100 OPS+. Over the last two years, he averaged a -6,3 UZR and a -7.5 DRS. The Mets owe him $8.25 million this year and the next. After next season, the Mets can decide to keep Cabrera for the 2018 season at $8.5 million, transition to Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario, or move in a completely different direction.
For his part, Reyes has put up similar production to Cabrera. Reyes is a career .290/.339/.431 hitter with a 105 OPS+. Because he accepted a suspension for an alleged act of domestic violence, Reyes has not played this year. When he played last year, Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 with an 82 OPS+. He did that while playing in two hitters ballparks in the Rogers Centre and Coors Field. Over the past two years, he has averaged a -6.6 UZR and a -12 DRS in the field. For that, the Rockies are paying Reyes the prorated portion of $22 million this year and the next. Like Cabrera, Reyes has an option for 2018. Unlike Cabrera, if that option is not exercised, Reyes is owed an additional $4 million buyout.
In terms of his production on the field, Reyes is not an upgrade over Cabrera. Worse yet, he’s a much more expensive option. Even if you were to presume the Rockies would eat a portion of Reyes’ salary, there is almost no amount that would make a deal between the two clubs make sense.
For the time being, the Mets’ needs are at first and third base. Reyes does not address either of those needs unless you want to shuffle a bunch of players out of position. The first option would be to move Reyes to second base like he once did in the first year of the Kaz Matsui experiment. That would force Neil Walker to third base.
In that situation, you are asking Reyes to return to a position he last played in 2004 for 43 games, and you are asking Walker to play a position he last played in 2010 and has played 15 total games in his career. It’s asking for trouble. The other option is to put Reyes at shortstop and move Cabrera to third base. Cabrera has only played 1.1 innings at third base in 2004. It’s not much better. Overall, there is no fit for Reyes on the team.
Assuming there was room for Reyes, and assuming the Rockies were to release him, it is still a bad idea.
The addition of Reyes would be a distraction. It’s a distraction because of who he is and what he once meant to the team and fans. If Cabrera, Walker, or another infielder falters, there will be a clamoring for him to replace that regular in the lineup.
There’s also the matter of his domestic violence action. There have been studies that show 62% of previously arrested domestic violence perpetrators are re-arrested within two years of the initial domestic violence act. Now, Reyes is purportedly taking the issue seriously. As part of his suspension, he is seeking counseling. We all hope for both him and his wife that the counseling will help and that there will be no more violence in that household.
With that said, this is baseball. We use statistics to make judgments on players. We can use Reyes’ statistics to show he is no longer the player he was with the Mets. We can use statistics to show he would not be an upgrade on the Mets roster. Unfortunately, we can also use the statistics to show that the drama that surrounds Reyes may not be over. What is and should be over is Reyes’ great run with the Mets during his career.
We should all wish Reyes and his family the best no matter where he winds up. Let’s just hope that place isn’t Flushing.