Jose Reyes is on the brink of what is increasingly looking like a once-unfathomable reunion with the Mets.
One of the final hurdles for a comeback was cleared Thursday when the Rockies requested waivers to grant the shortstop his unconditional release. The announcement was mostly procedural, as Reyes was designated for assignment last week, a move that gave the Rockies 10 days to either trade or release the four-time All-Star.
That period expires Saturday, and if Colorado is unable to deal Reyes before then, he will be available to any team for the prorated portion of the major-league minimum salary, which is roughly $277,000 for the rest of the season.
According to a source, the Mets have not yet made a final decision regarding Reyes, though all signs are pointing toward a reunion as soon as this weekend. Both sides have expressed their interest and the idea has continued to gain steam within the organization.
While the financial risk is low, as the Rockies will be on the hook for the remaining $41 million on his contract, Reyes brings with him the ugly stain of domestic-abuse allegations, which resulted in a 52-game suspension earlier this season. The charges were dropped when Reyes’ wife, Katherine, refused to cooperate with prosecutors in Hawaii, but the commissioner’s office believed there was enough evidence to punish him.
Balancing the baseball ability of the 33-year-old Reyes with the disturbing allegations is what has spurred the Mets to internally discuss the pros and cons of a reunion with their once-popular homegrown player. The idea has gained momentum during the past week, as Reyes’ chances of returning went from being characterized by a source as a “long shot” to a more serious candidate. Also, Mets officials believe that Reyes could be welcomed back to Flushing if he is fully committed to atoning for his behavior and willing to help raise awareness of domestic-violence issues.
From an on-field perspective, the Mets like Reyes because his two primary skills are exactly what their roster currently lacks: speed and the ability to get on base, which would give them a more traditional leadoff hitter than Curtis Granderson. Reyes batted .285 with a .322 on-base percentage and stole 16 bases in 69 games for the Blue Jays last season before being traded to the last-place Rockies. Stunned by the move and unhappy in Colorado, Reyes slipped to .259 with a .291 OBP in 47 games after the trade.
Reyes has told people close to him that returning to the Mets is his first choice and that he’d be willing to play third base if necessary. The Mets also have discussed using him at second and moving Neil Walker to third. The Mets have been thrilled with Asdrubal Cabrera’s play at shortstop, so Reyes would seem to be more of an insurance policy at that position.