It has been a bit of a running joke that infielder Jose Reyes still has a job with the New York Mets. After a decent season in 2017, Reyes re-signed with the Mets over the winter on a one year deal worth $2 million, but he has been an absolute disaster this year. In 167 at bats this year, Reyes is hitting just .186 with three home runs, 10 RBI’s, and an OPS of .562. Reyes has actually been worse in the field, committing eight errors and botching routine plays with regularity. All of that should have led to a DFA in May, when the Mets still had hope of turning their season around, but Reyes is still on the roster and that caught the attention of Deadspin’s Howard Megdal.
Megdal’s piece is a very interesting take on the situation, and it includes quotes from sources that indicate that “pro scouting advised his removal from the roster a long time ago.” There were rumblings in June that the Mets were going to cut Reyes from the roster, but that the hold up was apparently regarding how to give the long time shortstop a proper send off. Sandy Alderson backed up this account to Kate Feldman of Baseball Prospectus, who Megdal notes posted a piece where Alderson said that the Mets decided against releasing Reyes while they were on the West Coast since “he deserved more than that.” If that was the team’s opinion two months ago, what has happened since is truly mind boggling.
Things took a notable turn in mid-June, when Reyes complained to the press about his lack of playing time. A player that isn’t performing and complaining about his playing time usually gets a ticket out of town, but Reyes got his wish. Despite starting just 13 of the Mets’ first 65 games in the season, Reyes drew starts in 22 of the Mets’ next 43 games, which Megdal notes raised eyebrows from the pro scouting department that recommended releasing Reyes. Megdal actually asked Mickey Callaway at a press conference on Tuesday if Fred or Jeff Wilpon was advising him to play Reyes more, which the manager denied, but Megdal’s sources indicate otherwise.
Reyes himself recently said that both Wilpons are in the clubhouse all the time, with Megdal indicating that both the players and the baseball operations staff with the Mets have taken notice of how often Fred Wilpon has popped into Callaway’s office. What goes on in those meetings is unknown, but it is very possible that Wilpon is the one pushing for Reyes to get more playing time. This is problematic because forcing the manager to play a guy like Reyes, who isn’t part of the Mets’ long term future, is doing harm to the team’s talent evaluation process. Any time Reyes draws a start takes at bats away from young players who need the reps against big league pitching, like Amed Rosario or Jeff McNeil, which is what the Mets should be focused on at this point.
Reyes himself has indicated that he wants to come back next season, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports, and it seems like the Mets are the only team that would show interest in him due to ownership’s fondness for Reyes’ role in franchise history. This is nothing against Reyes, who is simply trying to make a living and extend his playing career, but has everything to do with ownership potentially meddling in baseball decisions again. If the team’s pro scouting department advised that Reyes should have been released months ago, he should have been released. By blocking the release of Reyes, Wilpon essentially put his own interests ahead of the best interests of the team, which is not a way to run a professional sports franchise.