When the Mets won 3-2 on Sunday, the win featured many hallmarks of the 2018 team’s 12-2 start. The Amazin’s got a solid starting pitching performance from Noah Syndergaard, a shutdown effort from the bullpen, and the Mets again erased a deficit to win in the late innings. These three factors have been constants over the first 14 games of the season.
In addition to these positive constants present yesterday was a negative one: Jose Reyes going hitless. In just his third start of the season, Reyes went 0-for-4, bumping the former batting champion’s season slash to .000/.059/.000.
The three-time All-Star is still hitless in 17 plate appearances, and has recorded just one walk two-and-a-half weeks into the season. Before Sunday’s start, his playing time had been virtually nonexistent.
For anyone who grew up watching Reyes crank out triples and steals at near Hall-of-Fame paces, this is indeed a sad development.
It’s no secret that the MVP-caliber shortstop Reyes of 2006 is long gone, but it’s starting to look like the adequate-utility infielder Reyes of 2016 is in the rear-view mirror as well. He’ll be 35 in June, and given how poorly and how little he’s played this season, one gets the feeling that this could be his last with the Mets and maybe even his last in the majors.
This casts major doubt on the already-doubtful prospect of Reyes and David Wright sharing the left side of the infield for just one more game.
That .000/.059/.000 slash probably isn’t going to do Reyes any favors in the front office. And if he keeps it up, there’s no question that his spot on the roster will eventually be in jeopardy. But thankfully for Reyes, he has a few factors working in his favor to preserve his roster spot — for now.
The first of these factors is Reyes’ contract. Reyes signed a one-year, $2 million major-league contract over the offseason. Since the Mets would have to eat the entirety of that salary if he were released, his roster spot probably will come with a bit of a longer leash. It’s not a big number, but the strapped-for-cash Mets probably don’t want to be paying any more players who aren’t on the roster. They’re still paying Carlos Beltran, Bobby Bonilla, and Bret Saberhagen.
Reyes is also still one of the Mets’ most versatile players on defense. He can play three infield positions and the corner-outfield spots if need be. So if either Amed Rosario, Asdrubal Cabrera or Todd Frazier get injured at some point in the season, Reyes could be in for a major uptick in playing time. Which probably isn’t a good thing for the Mets, but it should keep Reyes around for at least another month or two.
And despite his deficiencies at the plate, Reyes is still one of the Mets’ fastest players, which says a lot more about the Mets’ speed deficiencies than it does about Reyes. He led the Mets with 24 steals last season. All other Mets players combined for just 34 steals, and no individual player had more than seven. The Mets were 26th in the league in steals last season, and without Reyes they would have been 29th.
So despite that .000/.059/.000 slash, Reyes’ spot on the Mets is probably safe — for now. And as far as players at the bottom of your bench go, you could do a lot worse than Reyes. Hopefully for his sake, and for the Mets’ sake, he can get a couple of hits soon to erase those zeros, and to continue the hope of a Wright-Reyes reunion in the infield at some point in the future.