UPDATED: 10/10/2011 1:23 PM EDT
On June 11, 1983, somewhere in Villa Gonzalez, Santiago, Dominican Republic, José Bernabé Reyes was born. A superstar in the making in the Dominican Republic, Jose Reyes was signed by the Mets organization at age 16 on August 16, 1999, and bypassed the Mets' Dominican Summer League team, beginning his career with the rookie-class Kingsport Mets in 2000. His sheer speed, contact, and even some pop in his bat, would culminate into the elements that would eventually get him called up to the majors, merit him four All-Star nominations, and ultimately, a breakout that would propel him to the front of the crop, in a field of baseball talent.
After being named the #34 prospect pre-2002 and the #3 prospect pre-2003 by Baseball America, Jose Reyes was just about guaranteed a call-up to the majors sooner rather than later. On June 10, 2003, right before his 20th birthday, that day came in a night game vs. the Rangers, at The Ballpark in Arlington. After a respectable rookie season ended prematurely with a stint to the Disabled List (sprained ankle), in which he finished 8th in Rookie of the Year voting, Reyes made the move to 2B the following year, as the Mets signed Japanese import Kazuo Matsui to play SS. Overall, the 2004 season, a season riddled with injuries for Reyes, was a disaster; Reyes hasn't played at 2B ever since.
However, the 2005 season, and almost every season since, would be different. 2005 was Jose Reyes' breakout year. Not only did Reyes manage to play practically a full season with 161 games played (159 started), but he also led the majors in plate appearances (733), at-bats (696), triples (17), and the National League in stolen bases (60). Following his breakout season, Reyes participated in the 2006 World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. On June 21, 2006, Reyes became the 9th Met in franchise history to hit for the cycle, in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Reyes was later elected to the All-Star Game for the first time. Also, on September 7, 2006, Reyes would hit his first career inside-the-park home run, in a game against the Dodgers. Reyes quickly rose to prominence as one of the most popular sports personalities, and was regularly featured as "Professor Reyes" on the Diamond Vision. Reyes finished the 2006 season, leading the league in triples (17) and stolen bases (64), won the Silver Slugger award at SS for the National League, and played for the Mets during the 2006 playoffs. The 2007 season was just as eventful for Reyes; in addition to another All-Star nomination, on August 22, 2007, Reyes broke the franchise record for stolen bases, held previously by Roger Cedeno (66 in 1999), by stealing his 65th, 66th and 67th bases of the year. Reyes finished the 2007 season with a single-season franchise record 78 stolen bases, which also led the majors that season. Reyes had a set a lofty goal to steal over 100 stolen bases the following year, in a possible attempt to break Rickey Henderson's single-season stolen base record (130 in 1982) - those dreams were never realized; in fact, 78 remains Jose Reyes' personal single-season stolen base record.
The 2008 season got off to a different start for Reyes. At the behest of manager Willie Randolph, he was asked to focus more on baseball, and less on showboating and the various displays of theatrics - as a result, the "Professor Reyes" segment was cancelled. Though somewhat disheartened, Reyes continued doing what he did best. On July 20, 2008, Jose Reyes hit his 63rd career triple, surpassing Mookie Wilson as the franchise leader in triples. (video) Later that year, Reyes would break another franchise record previously held by Mookie Wilson - on September 10, 2008, in a slugfest between the Mets and the Nationals, Reyes stole his 282nd base, becoming the franchise leader in stolen bases. (video) Reyes would finish the 2008 season with a National League-leading 204 hits, which is the only time Reyes has ever logged 200+ hits in a season (and only the second time in Mets franchise history any player had 200+ hits in a season); Reyes also led the majors with 19 triples. In 2009, Reyes participated in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately for Reyes, his 2009 season in a Mets uniform was a disaster. On May 3, 2009, Reyes was placed on the Disabled List with a calf injury. Despite some progress during his rehab assignments, Reyes' hopes to return in 2009 were shattered, when he suffered a tear in his right hamstring late in the season.
Reyes was eager to return to playing for the Mets in 2010. However, during spring training, Reyes was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid gland (believed to have occurred as a result of suddenly including fish in his diet), which landed him on the Disabled List to start the season. Reyes would not miss much time, returning on April 10, 2010 and missing only 4 regular-season games. (video) Despite having a down season in 2010, it was not devoid of Jose Reyes highlights. On May 25, 2010, in an 8-0 shellacking of the Phillies (an R.A. Dickey start followed by a 3-inning save by Raul Valdes), Jose Reyes recorded his 1,000th career hit. (video) Reyes was also nominated to his 3rd All-Star Game, but was unable to play due to injury. (He was replaced on the NL All-Star roster by Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal.) As the 2010 season ended on a somber note, 2011 brought some solace; for Reyes, it brought a whole lot more. Reyes started off his career-best 2011 season with a multitude of extra-base hit games, a consistently high batting average that led the majors for a time, and an on-base percentage that nearly broke the .400 mark at one point. (video) Reyes reaffirmed his standing as one of the most exciting players in baseball. On June 28, 2011, Reyes not only played his 1,000th career game, but also stole his 360th base, becoming one of the top 100 players in the stolen bases category, of all-time. (video) (That was also the game in which the Mets ended their 299 consecutive games grand slam drought, with TWO grand slams.) Also, against all odds, on the last days of All-Star Game voting for the Shortstop position of the National League, Reyes suddenly took off with a commanding lead atop the NL SS voting leaderboard, on his way to being elected to his 4th All-Star Game. Jose Reyes had an incredible 2011 season, which stood in stark contrast to his 2010 season, leading the majors in triples (16), and finishing with a career-highs in batting average (.337), on-base percentage (.384) and slugging percentage (.493), as well as in OPS (.877). (video) That .337 batting average not only won Reyes the National League batting title - it also marked the first time in Mets franchise history that any player has ever won a batting title.
Let's use this thread as a postseason/offseason thread for Jose Reyes and Jose Reyes-related news. Reyes merits a thread dedicated to following up on him, as he ventures into the free agent waters, hopefully returning as a Met. Check back periodically for updates on ReyesWatch.
09/28/2011 11:05 PM EDT: Reyes crowned Mets' first batting champion (mets.com)
NEW YORK -- The final act was not a buzz of electricity but a solitary pulse. Jose Reyes strutted to the plate in the first inning of Wednesday's season finale at Citi Field, bunted the second pitch he saw, raced down the first-base line and reached safely.
Seconds later, Reyes walked back to the dugout, racked his bat and helmet and took his seat on the bench, in what may have been his final acts as a Met. Within moments, fans realized what was taking place and began booing.
Reyes' average stood at .337, plus a few hundred-thousandths of a point. The shortstop hosted a private party at his Long Island home later Wednesday, watching his lone remaining competitor for the National League batting title, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, go 0-for-4 to finish at .332 and officially crown Reyes the first batting champion in Mets history...
09/29/2011 4:14 PM EDT: GM: Don't expect quick Jose Reyes deal (ESPN New York)
Still, Alderson indicated, Mets fans should not count on the shortstop re-signing during the organization's exclusive negotiating window. Open bidding begins five days after the World Series.
"I don't really want to speculate on what might happen or not happen before his exclusive negotiating period expires," Alderson said Thursday, a day after the Mets finished his first season as GM with a 77-85 record and fourth-place finish. "However, if history is any guide, most players who get to this point don't see any reason to make a decision within the next 30 days. They're that close to free agency. I wouldn't want people to expect that something is going to happen in October...
10/07/2011 12:12 AM EDT: Reyes: Mets haven't started contract talks (Newsday)
(added for relevance)
The offseason already may be in full swing for the Mets, but Jose Reyes' contract negotiations have not even started.
The four-time All-Star shortstop said Thursday that the Mets have not reached out to him yet regarding a new deal.
"They'll probably start up within the next few days," the free-agent-to-be said at a red-carpet event for ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue. "But right now, everything's quiet."
Reyes is coming off a five-year, $33.75 million contract extension. The 28-year-old shortstop is widely considered one of the top prizes this offseason after recording a National League-best .337 average.
Reyes had asked the Mets front office during spring training to table all contract negotiations until the end of the season.
Reyes said that he would like to stay in New York, but recognizes that it may not happen...