Posted on January 25, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
In need of infield help with spring training fast approaching, the New York Mets have turned to a familiar face. On Thursday, the Mets agreed to sign longtime shortstop turned utility player Jose Reyes. According to reports, Reyes and the Mets have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million. Reyes can also earn up to $500,000 in incentives. Initial indications are that Reyes will fill a utility role for the Mets in 2018.
Reyes has spent the last year and a half back with the Mets. The Colorado Rockies released him following his 2016 suspension for a domestic violence arrest. Of course, the Rockies were still on the hook for his salary in 2016, as well as last season, with the Mets only paying him the major league minimum. This time around, the Mets will have to pay his full salary.
When he first returned in 2016, Reyes played mostly at third base, taking the spot of longtime teammate and close friend David Wright, who has scarcely played over the last three years due to injury. He hit .267 with an OPS of .769, making it easy for the Mets to bring him back in 2017. However, Reyes struggled offensively during the first half of the year. Even with a strong second half, Reyes only hit .246 with an OPS of .728 last season.
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That being said, Reyes was still able to steal 24 bases last season. He brings speed to a team that is otherwise lacking in it. Also, the 34-year old continues to be a reliable defensive player who now brings versatility to the table. He started 71 games at shortstop in 2017, while also starting more than 20 games at both second base and third base. In total, Reyes started 126 games for the Mets last season.
Barring injuries, the Mets don’t expect to need Reyes quite that much in 2018. Youngster Amed Rosario is expected the team’s everyday shortstop, limiting the need for Reyes at his natural position. However, the Mets will be happy to have Reyes present to help mentor the 22-year old Rosario early in his big league career. Reyes was once his Rosario’s position of being a highly-lauded young player in New York.
Of course, the Mets may still need Reyes to help them cover both second and third base. At the moment, Asdrubal Cabrera is penciled in at third base, leaving some combination of Reyes and Wilmer Flores at second base. The Mets have been in the market for a second baseman all season. But they have yet to add an everyday player through free agency or trade.
Bringing back Reyes doesn’t preclude the Mets from adding a second baseman, or even a third baseman like Todd Frazier. However, it does signal that the team is becoming less optimistic about adding a full-time player at that position.
The Mets could conceivably get by with Cabrera, Reyes, and Flores combining to handle second and third base. But that situation is far from ideal for a team with playoff aspirations. If the Mets can add another infielder, they would no doubt be pleased with both Reyes and Flores in backup roles. Either way, Reyes should be a useful contributor to the Mets in 2018.