Prior to this past Sunday's game, Jose Reyes had not started at second base since 2004.
"It was good," Reyes later said of returning to second. "When I played in 2004, I had a little trouble turning the double play, and nowadays you're not allowed to slide as hard at second base, it's made the play easier."
Reyes, who is 34 and earning the league minimum $535,000 this season, is eligible to be a free agent at the end of the year. There have been no reports indicating whether he or the Mets are interested in continuing their relationship beyond this season.
In 166 games since signing with the Mets last summer, Reyes is batting .240 with a .301 OBP, 57 extra base hits, and 90 runs scored. In 106 games with the Mets in 2017, he had 1.3 WAR, according to FanGraphs. However, this season in nearly the double the games, they calculate him to be below replacement level.
Matthew Cerrone (Twitter | Instagram | About Me): He's right, he does look a lot better at second base today than he did in 2004. Back then, with only 63 big-league games under his belt and having never played any position other than shortstop, Reyes was forced to move to his left and make room for Japanese free-agent SS Kaz Matsui. At second, Reyes looked painfully uncomfortable, he was ineffective, and injured himself. Sadly, Matsui didn't look much better at shortstop, despite it being his natural position.
August 27, 2005; Todd Linden slides into second and Jose Reyes at SBC Park. Credit: Conder-US PRESSWIRE
The next season, under new GM Omar Minaya and manager Willie Randolph, Matsui was moved to second base before being traded to the Rockies a few years later. In Matsui's place, Reyes returned to his natural position, where he would stay the next six years.
That said, it is Jose who now looks slow when on the left side of the infield. He picks it better at third base than short, but his arm is not what it used to be, resulting in weak and inaccurate throws. Interestingly, though he is behind a step or two at shortstop, 13 years later, Reyes now looks comfortable and appropriate when handling second base. In other words, given that Jose loves being in New York and would probably take a discount to stay, I wonder if he is being viewed by Sandy Alderson as a possible option there for next season?
Aug 6, 2017; Rosario (1) Jose Reyes (7) laugh prior to their game at Citi Field. Credit: Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, Amed Rosario will be the team's everyday shortstop, while Dominic Smith holds down first base. Third base is a question mark, as is second. Neil Walker is a free agent, who may or may not be interested in returning. In either case, as the Mets begin using Walker at third and first to see what he's capable of doing, I hope they continue to give Reyes time at second for the same reason.
Reyes and Rosario have a close relationship. If Jose is effective at second, and interested in returning, assuming Alderson doesn't have any better option, pairing Jose and Rosario up the middle could have the potential to be a nice combination.