Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004. Show More
Jose Reyes made his major-league debut with the Mets in 2003. David Wright arrived a year later.
They played next to each other on the diamond, Reyes the lightning-quick shortstop, Wright the powerful third baseman. Within two years, they were one win from the World Series.
Wright and Reyes. Reyes and Wright. They were supposed to be the cornerstones of the organization for a long, long time. They had the chance to be the two best position players the Mets ever developed and kept.
But today they are both at a crossroads in their baseball lives. Wright, his body betraying him, is facing the possibility of season-ending neck surgery on top of the spinal stenosis that has plagued him since last year.
Reyes, a shell of his former All-Star self, was designated for assignment Wednesday by Colorado, his third team since he left the Mets as a free agent after winning the batting title in 2011.
Reyes was DFA’d on the same day he was reinstated from a suspension for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy after an Oct. 31, 2015 incident in Hawaii. Reyes was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife, but the charges were dropped after Reyes’ wife declined to cooperate with prosecutors.
The Rockies have 10 days to trade or release Reyes, who is owed about $40 million in the final two years of a $106-million contract he signed with the Marlins.
Forget about a Reyes reunion in Flushing. The Mets aren’t going to go there even though manager Terry Collins was willing to share his affection for Reyes Wednesday night.
“I don’t know what going to happen down the road,” Collins said. “I certainly always root for him.”
Collins’ affection for Wright, who may decide as soon as Thursday if he needs surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, has never been in doubt.
“I thought they’d be here a long time,” Collins said. “I thought Jose would be here many, many years. I’ll tell you . . . This is a real hard game to play in this city. When you walked in the clubhouse every day and you’d see David Wright sitting in the corner with a smile on his face. You turned to Jose and nobody had a bigger smile than him. Every day. 0-for-4, 0-for-10, 10-for-10. Same guys. You need those guys.”
You need those guys in their primes. But you don’t need them when age, injury and off-field problems in the case of Reyes become more the story than what the player can give you on the field.
For Reyes, there’s a decent chance some team will give him a shot. He turned 33 on Saturday and shortstops are always in demand, even if Reyes is now viewed as a subpar defender.
But, oh, when they were young . . .
“I got to see them every day,” former Met Carlos Beltran told Newsday’s Erik Boland. “Rey provided a lot of impact at the top of the lineup and David Wright also in the middle of the lineup. Both different players, but both of them played with a great intensity and worked real hard.”
Sandy Alderson, in one of his first major decisions as Mets general manager, let Reyes leave as a free agent. Yes, the Mets were in the throes of their Madoff-inspired years of frugality, but history has proven Alderson was right to not commit mega years and dollars to Reyes.
About a year later, in November of 2012, the Mets signed Wright to an eight-year, $138-million contract extension. He was named team captain the following March and suffered through the lean years and the onset of his serious back condition before the Mets returned to glory and the World Series in 2015.
But, as Wright and Reyes have learned, the glory days don’t last forever. The Mets turned the page on Reyes a long time ago and are in the process of doing the same if Wright gets the surgery. That’s life, and that’s baseball.