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Can Jose Reyes become a useful utility player?

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Please, please let him just be a role player.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Mets Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In many ways, a successful Mets season can be judged by how many at-bats Jose Reyes gets for the team. If Reyes is a role player, spelling infielders here and there, providing some late game speed, and getting 150 plate appearances, that’s likely a good sign for the Mets’ playoff hopes. However, if Reyes plays in 145 games in 2018, like he did in 2017, the hopes for the Mets’ season look bleak.

Reyes still can be a useful baseball player, especially if he hits like he did in the second half of last year, where he hit .288/.356/.472. No longer a defensive whiz nor one of the fastest players in the league, Reyes can still fill in at multiple positions around the diamond (he played five different positions in 2017) and can steal a base or two. For a team to succeed, there often needs to be a player like Reyes, who can be a jack of all trades down the stretch. He will likely get most of his playing time giving Amed Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera days off here and there.

Of course, the story of Reyes is more complicated than that. Once a beloved staple of the franchise, Reyes returned to the Mets in 2016 after being released by the Colorado Rockies, in part due to a domestic violence incident in the fall of 2015. Reyes signed with the Florida Miami Marlins after the 2011 season without hearing a counter offer from the Mets. Miami eventually traded him to Toronto, who eventually traded him to Colorado.

All of that is to say that Mets fans were not exactly enamored for a variety of reasons when the Mets re-signed Reyes to a one-year contract in January. While there are baseball and non-baseball reasons to like or dislike the signing, it is doubtful that anyone not directly related to Reyes is looking for him to be any more than a role player in 2018.