This weekend will likely be the official end of the David Wright-Jose Reyes Era with the Mets in Queens.
We don't yet know what the future holds for Wright, who will start Saturday at Citi Field for the first time since early 2016. However, it's quite clear, based on multiple reports, that Reyes will not be retained, though he has said he would like to continue playing beyond this season.
"My body feels good. I feel healthy," he told the Post. "We'll see if there's an opportunity."
In either case, fully understanding the significance of the moment, Mets manager Mickey Callaway recently said he plans to start Reyes at shortstop on Saturday, allowing the two long-time friends and teammates one more chance to play next to one another.
In the end, regardless of when it officially occurs, Wright will finish his career with the most at-bats in team history, while Reyes will finish third. Wright will also have scored the most runs ever for the Mets, after which Reyes is second.
Wright is also first in hits, again with Reyes right behind him. The same can be said for doubles, extra base hits, times on base and total bases. Reyes currently leads the franchise in triples and stolen bases, where he is light years ahead of everyone else, including Wright.
The point is, while these lists are littered with all sorts of prolific names from their respective eras, Wright and Reyes have been the franchise's most impactful hitters during the last decade and a half.
In fact, according to stats compiled by Baseball Reference, their combined 77.1 WAR when wearing a Mets uniform is the most from any same-era duo in team history. Keith Hernandez and Darry Strawberry are next on the list with 62.6, followed by Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo.
The Wright-Reyes era started in 2003, when Reyes was the first to earn his much-awaited debut.
The previous spring, Baseball America ranked him the organization's top prospect, with Wright checking in at No. 4. Scott Kazmir and Aaron Heilman were ranked between them. Reyes was so highly touted that during that December's Winter Meetings, prior to which Reyes hit .307 and produced 2.3 WAR in just 69 games as a rookie, rumors swirled that the Rangers proposed dealing Alex Rodriguez for Reyes, Heilman and a third prospect. The Mets declined.
Instead, Rodriguez was dealt to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano, after which then-Mets GM Steve Phillips proposed to ownership that the Mets ink Reyes to a 10-year, $30 million deal. Obviously, that never happened, but it was a pretty forward-thinking idea and one that probably should have been done.
Wright was promoted to the Mets the next season, at which time he was considered their second-best prospect. He recently told me he barley remembers his first at-bat because he was consumed with the moment and distracted by seeing his face on the Jumbotron.
At the time, Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile were struggling to provide a consistent presence at first base. So, to help stabilize the situation, Ty Wigginton moved across the diamond from third base, where the team said Wright would be only a temporary replacement. Thankfully, Wright never left...
During the next eight years, the much-heralded duo played side by side more than 1,200 times.
Unfortunately, while both players will always be associated with speed, power, smiles and excitement, their time together will also forever be linked to the back-to-back collapses in 2007 and 2008. The year before, it was all sunshine and roses as the young upstarts, Wright and Reyes, quickly delivered on their goal of getting to the postseason.
In addition to getting the Mets to October in 2006, the two also made the All Star team that season, they appeared in commercials, including a national Nike fashion shoot, and promo spots for the midsummer classic, as well as on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Local talk radio also got in the act, often debating whether Reyes and Wright were dethroning Rodriguez and Derek Jeter as the best shortstop and third base dup in New York.
Then, after losing to the Cardinals in the NLCS, they coughed up a seven game lead with 17 games to play and missed the playoffs in 2007. The same thing essentially happened the next season, which coincided with the fall of Shea Stadium. The debate online and on talk radio was no longer about whether Reyes and Wright were better than Rodriguez and Jeter. The debate was whether Reyes and Wright should be on the Mets at all.
"Wright and Reyes are the team's core and, after what has gone on here the last two years, there is no coming back from that, and the core needs to be broken up," WFAN's Mike Francesa repeated over and over again during his popular drive-time radio show prior to the 2009 season.
Of course, neither player was traded, with both grinding it out together as the organization entered a new ballpark, fired two managers, hired a new GM and began a rebuilding phase that had no need for a 29-year-old, about-to-be-free agent shortstop wanting a $100-million contract.
MLB and team insiders told me then that, while GM Sandy Alderson was open to discussing a contract with Reyes, he had no interest in giving more than a three-year deal. It was known around the league that the Marlins had every intention of signing Reyes, who they pitched at the airport on his first night of free agency. It was widely known that Miami was offering a seven-year, nine-figure contract, which was more than double the limit that Alderson had in mind.
With reportedly no long-term offers on the table other than from Miami, team Reyes repeatedly circled back with the Mets in hopes that Alderson would give in to fans demanding he bring Jose home. However, given where the Mets were in their rebuild, given the state of their financial restructure and given Jose's age, Alderson refused to budge, leaving Reyes no choice other than to join the Marlins.
Meanwhile, Wright did what Wright does, which is play hard, hit, make All-Star teams and get MVP votes. Unfortunately during that time, the Mets lost a lot more games than they won.
Also around that time, Wright suffered what initially seemed like a minor injury to his hamstring, but which was later revealed to be a small fracture in his lower back. The subluxation would eventually lead to the lumbar spinal stenosis that forced Wright to miss roughly two seasons, culminating in his return this weekend.
In 2016, Reyes rejoined the Mets in June after he was cut by the Rockies in the wake of a domestic violence incident. Reyes eventually joined their big-league roster in July and helped them rally and win a Wild Card spot. If you recall, there was a point during late-2016 when Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes formed a dangerous and exciting top of the lineup complete with choreographed high fives and a lot of blonde hair.
Statistically, Jose's place in the team's history is unquestioned as he is no doubt the best overall shortstop to ever wear their uniform. Bud Harrelson is a distant second. It can also be argued -- given his dugout dancing, scoreboard antics and unbridled base running and enthusiasm -- that Jose is also the franchise's most exciting player since the late 80s.
It's difficult to remember, because it seems like it occurred in a different lifetime, but in the season before Reyes left for the Marlins, he was as beloved of a player as Wright. Whereas David was viewed as more professional and focused, Reyes had a hustle, electricity and infectious personality that captivated every fan and teammate, yet also enraged rivals.
The point is, Reyes was once on a path toward being the type of organizational legend that Wright is now. The thing is, that status deteriorated for most fans when Reyes left the Mets for the Marlins as a free agent in late 2011. What's worse, it's fair to assume the only reason he returned to the Mets in 2016 is because he had no place else to following his suspension after the domestic violence issue.
Meanwhile, whereas Reyes joined the Marlins while leaving a bad taste in Citi Field, Wright stuck with the organization when faced with his own pending free agency. And, while Reyes was struggling to stay healthy and being traded from the division-rival Marlins to the Blue Jays, Wright pushed through a career-threatening injury and helped us experience a World Series.
Oct 30, 2015; Wright (5) hits a two-run single against the Kansas City Royals during game three of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As a result of his accomplishments and dedication, Wright has become a legend...
In addition to the laundry list of stats and hardware mentioned above, Wright is the only player in franchise history to start multiple All-Star Games, playoff games and World Series games, while playing his entire career with the Mets.
Down the road, when both players have retired, I'm sure Mets fans will stand and cheer for Reyes when he appears at Citi Field, as they should. But, the applause for him will be based more on appreciation than the love and respect that will rain down on Wright starting this weekend and the rest of his life.
"It will be cool, storybook ending," Wright told me in 2017, projecting out to a day when he and Reyes could take the field together toward the end of their careers.
The once-young, promising duo will get their wish and finally reunite on field this weekend. It will likely be the last time they stand side-by-side in full uniform in a game that counts, after which they'll drift out of view and be replaced by another group of youngsters set to kick off a new era of Mets baseball.
Wright and Reyes entered the league together, won and lost together and, despite their different paths and accomplishments along the way, I'm happy knowing we'll get to see them end their careers together as well. It's been a fun ride, boys. Thank you for the countless memories...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!