Memorial Day is almost upon us, and by the time the Mets’ current road trip wraps up, the month of May will be almost over. Back in April when the season was a mere few weeks old, it was apparent that the Mets couldn’t afford to give Jose Reyes a very long leash.
It’s been more than a month since then, and Reyes has yet to show any signs of turning it around. He has a 15 wRC+ on the year with -0.5 fWAR in 59 plate appearances. He has driven in just one run all season. And as he nears his 35th birthday, he hasn’t shown that he has very much left to give in the way of slick defense. Essentially the only purpose he has been serving is as a pinch runner in the late innings—a niche role on which the Mets cannot afford to burn a roster spot.
With Todd Frazier making progress toward returning to the lineup, Reyes’s leash is running out. In Frazier’s absence, the Mets have been using a combination of Reyes, Wilmer Flores, and Luis Guillorme at third base. It’s hard to argue that Reyes has outperformed Flores or Guillorme in almost any facet of the game. Wilmer Flores has a 103 wRC+ for the season and a 108 wRC+ over the past two weeks since Todd Frazier landed on the disabled list. He’s also looked pretty competent in the field, even making two slick plays at third in last night’s game. Luis Guillorme got off to a hot start with the bat and, while he has cooled off since, it is clear that he is a defensive upgrade over both Reyes and Flores in the infield.
Put simply, Guillorme is clearly a better defender than Reyes, and Flores is clearly a better hitter than Reyes and both play the same positions that Reyes plays, so it is hard to see a reason why Reyes remains on the roster at this point. Amed Rosario seems to be settling in just fine, and one is left to wonder how much more mentoring he needs that Reyes cannot provide as a friend rather than a teammate.
Guillorme isn’t the only player that can fill Reyes’s roster spot competently among the Mets’ depth pieces. Ty Kelly has a respectable .838 OPS at Triple-A Las Vegas. Phillip Evans, recently sent back down to Triple-A, holds an .834 OPS himself. Both players have the positional flexibility to be useful utility players. Jeff McNeil, finally healthy, is tearing it up for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and holds a 1.118 OPS for the season with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs and remains and intriguing option with some upside. Later in the summer, T.J. Rivera may become an option as well, as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery.
The fact remains that the Reyes signing was one made out of sentimentality for a player that once was, rather than to fill an actual need. Continuing to carry him on the roster represents a biased assessment of the player he is now and a continued pattern of refusing to cut bait with aging veteran players when it is warranted. Reyes’s once wonderful and fond Mets legacy is unfortunately already tainted. There is little reason to taint it further, grasping at the small chance that Reyes has something left to give the team, as the offense continues to struggle to score runs while the Mets wait for his bat to come alive again.