Jose Reyes returns to Mets, signs minor league contract

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Sunday, June 26, 2016

ATLANTA -- Jose Reyessigned a minor league contract with the New York Metson Saturday after the 33-year-old shortstop became a free agent earlier in the day.

Reyes will report to Class A Brooklyn and is expected to play third base Sunday, the Mets announced.Reyes is slated to address the media after the game.

General manager Sandy Alderson estimated Reyes will play for a week to 10 days in the minors before joining the Mets. He will likely move on to Double-A Binghamton or Triple-A Las Vegas after a second game with Brooklyn on Monday.

The Mets originally signed Reyes in 1999 as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic. He was a member of the organization for a dozen years, winning the National League batting title in 2011 before departing for a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins.

Reyes was arrested Oct. 31 after a physical altercation with his wife at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea, Hawaii. He allegedly grabbed his wife, Katherine, by the throat and pushed her into a sliding-glass door in their hotel room. Reyes' wife declined to cooperate with prosecutors, and a judge in Hawaii formally dropped a domestic abuse charge in April.

Major League Baseball suspended Reyes without pay through May 31 for violating its domestic abuse policy. Reyes forfeited $6.25 million in salary as a result of the suspension. Unable to trade Reyes, the Colorado Rockies placed him on waivers Thursday for the purpose of granting him his release, and Reyes became a free agent Saturday.

"As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family," Reyes said in a statement. "I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York."

After completing his suspension, Reyes appeared in nine games with Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .303 with 2 home runs, 2 RBIs and 3 steals in 33 at-bats. Still, the Rockies designated him for assignment last week.

The Rockies are responsible for the remaining $39 million owed to Reyes, minus a prorated portion of the $507,500 MLB minimum that the Mets would pick up.

Reyes will be required to continue undergoing counseling while with the Mets.

"I did meet with Jose personally. We talked for about an hour," Alderson said. "Obviously this domestic abuse issue was the focal point of that conversation. I came away feeling that he had taken responsibility for this mistake on his part, that he was remorseful. He obviously has paid a penalty for this, both financially and in terms of his career. He, I believe, is committed to ongoing counseling and support of organizations working against domestic abuse.

"And obviously, in addition to this personal meeting, we had a lot of internal conversations. [Chief operating officer] Jeff Wilpon was directly involved in this every step of the way. We were aware of the possible controversy this would generate. We're also fully aware of the responsibility we sort of have to be leaders in this area of fighting domestic abuse. ... At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so, if you think of it in those terms, us as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt that he deserved a second chance, and that second chance was most appropriate with us."

Alderson said Reyes would get outfield exposure during his minor league stint in addition to playing third base.

"Ian Desmond is playing center field for the Texas Rangers," Alderson said. "This would not be a significant challenge, I don't believe, for Jose if he were to play a little bit of left field."

Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed Reyes during the 2011 season, said he intends to slot in Reyes as the team's leadoff hitter, a role he filled for the Mets during his first term with the club. Reyes had only a .310 on-base percentage last season with the Toronto Blue Jays and Rockies, but he did steal 24 bases in 116 games. The Mets have struggled to manufacture runs and have a glaring lack of speed. David Wright, who is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, still leads the team with three steals.

Reyes continues to make his home in Old Brookville on Long Island, so a reunion with the Mets is doubly attractive. His first stint with the club was highlighted by pairing with Wright to come within a game of reaching the World Series in 2006.

"I haven't seen him in recent years, but he did a lot of things," said Collins. "He was a good hitter. He could fly. He's got a great arm. He played very good shortstop. He brought a lot to the party.

"One of the things that probably caught my imagination was his joy of playing in New York. He loved it. That's why he moved there. He loved being there. He loved playing in New York. It's a tough place, because you're going to have some bad times and some bad days. But he always had a smile. And when he didn't, something was wrong, and you knew it. And that was the easiest kind of way to judge that it's time for a day off.

"In my time around him, he was a joy to be around."

Said Alderson: "Do we expect him to win the National League battle title this year the way he did in 2011? No. Has he lost a step maybe? Is he the premier shortstop that he once was? It doesn't really matter -- he's not going to play shortstop. So we've taken all of those things into account. We think he can help us. You know, from a motivational standpoint, I don't think we would be able to find a player who is more determined, more highly motivated to perform than Jose is today."

Alderson said earlier this week that character does play a role when the team is evaluating free agents. The Mets appear to have decided that Reyes had served his punishment and that his on-field value at a modest salary warranted signing him.

"We fully understand there will be differences of opinion about this," Alderson said. "Some people will feel strongly and differently. I think we accept that. We respect that. All I can say is can is both Jose and the organization will be held to a standard going forward that recognizes the seriousness of domestic abuse and a commitment to stand against it."

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