On Saturday afternoon, the New York Mets announced the signing of former fan favorite Jose Reyes to a minor league deal. Jose Reyes left the team after the 2011 season, which turned out to be a career year, where he had a 142 wRC+, and a .337 batting average, in route to a batting title.
Normally, a deal like this would be met with universal acclaim; to bring back a player on the veteran’s minimum that nearly every fan loved would be adored by the fanbase.
However, the Jose Reyes the Mets are signing is not the same Jose Reyes who spent 2003-2011 with the team, on or off the field. It is a vastly different, and disappointing one.
As most, if not all, of baseball fans are aware, Reyes was suspended by the MLB stemming from a domestic violence arrest in November of 2015; it was a shocking, awful, and scary report.
The signing has caused much division between Mets fans, on social media and in face-to-face conversations alike; it is going to be a topic up for debate for the rest of the season, if not longer. Does he deserve a second chance? Should he be celebrated upon his return?
Second chances are hard to give, especially when it is something as horrific as what Reyes did. It will undoubtedly cause mixed feelings amongst Mets fans when Reyes dons the uniform, and with good reason. Not only will this cause mixed feelings to be had towards Reyes, these feelings will be had for the ownership and management itself, with their morality rightfully called into question.
Overall the crime that Reyes is bringing with him (not baggage; it is far worse than baggage) will cast a light on the Mets for a long time, and will conflict those who love the Mets, and those who love(d) Jose Reyes, regardless of if he flames out, or if he hits .350 for the remainder of the season (spoiler alert: that is doubtful). As for me, I do not think I could ever support him or love him the same way I once did, or at all for that matter; his horrific actions tainted that.
On the field, he is a far worse product, and this is something Mets fans will quickly realize. Since his last season in Queens, his best season came in 2013, where he slashed .296/.353/.427, with 10 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and a 115 wRC+.
He has careened down to Earth since then. In 2014 he hit .287/.328/.398, with nine home runs, and a 104 wRC+. He did have 30 steals, however.
Last season was a rough year on the field for Reyes. Through 69 games for the Toronto Blue Jays, he slashed .285/.322/.385, four home runs, 16 stolen bases, and a 93 wRC+. After being below league average for the surging Blue Jays, he was a part of a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Rockies that got the Jays Troy Tulowitzki. He sputtered for the Rockies, hitting .259/.291/.368, with three home runs, eight stolen bases, got caught stealing four times, and a 62 wRC+. That end of the season was absolutely abysmal, no doubt about it, and that is not fit for the team with World Series aspirations. Citing a trade from a contender to a pretender is not valid either; if he did pack it in after that trade, it speaks to his character.
He ended the 2015 season with a combined 80 wRC+. To put that in perspective, that is worse than most of the 2015 Mets bench players; Juan Uribe (104 wRC+), Kelly Johnson (100 wRC+), Michael Cuddyer (97 wRC+), Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada (both 95 wRC+), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (93 wRC+) and Dilson Hererra (92 wRC+, albeit in 31 games) were all better than Reyes. Juan Lagares had the same wRC+ with 80, and his bad season was a topic of conversation among Mets fans.
Another big issue with the Reyes signing is his position on the diamond; he has basically only played at shortstop, sans a handful of games at third base in the minors and a few innings at second base. Current starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been very solid in his first campaign in Queens; he is ninth on the team in wRC+ at 103, and fourth on the team with 24 RBIs. He has been extremely solid defensively as well, and he is also exclusively a shortstop.
The Mets have considered Reyes in a supersub role, and have even mentioned him playing left field, but these assumptions are not backed in anything factual; they are simply assumptions. The Mets are sending him to the minors to work on playing other positions, but to assume he will be competent at a basically brand new position at this point in his career is hard to believe, especially when his defensive skills at shortstop were diminishing anyway.
This year, Jose Reyes has played a grand total of nine minor league games; he has not seen Major League caliber pitching since September of 2015, and he could not hit then; why on Earth would that improve nine months later? On top of that, his only position is taken by one of the players who is not an offensive issue for the Mets. Reyes does bring speed to a shockingly slow team, but is reserving a roster spot for a pinch running specialist worth it? (Hint: in the National League, it is not).
For the Mets, this move stinks of nostalgia and desperation, which is ironic, considering they are only 2.0 games behind the Washington Nationals (although the offensive woes are abundant and obvious).
So please Mets fans, temper your expectations, otherwise you’ll likely be disappointed.