MIAMI -- As the Mets inch closer to the offseason, which will bring myriad decisions about how to retrofit a roster that team officials insist will be good enough to compete in 2018, there remains a small chance that Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera could be back in a Mets uniform next season.
“Probably unlikely,” one team official said on Wednesday, when the Mets dropped a 9-2 decision to the Marlins. “But possible.”
However, the most likely scenario is that the Mets choose one or the other, a decision that could be swayed by how both veteran infielders close out the season. For now, Cabrera appears the most likely of the two to remain, though Reyes has thrust himself into the mix with a strong September.
From a team perspective, wins and losses have long been irrelevant for the Mets (65-87), who were swept by the Marlins in a three-game series to cap a 2-7 road trip. Rafael Montero surrendered five runs and seven hits in only four innings, and Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton hammered his 56th homer.
But for the Mets, the homestretch has been about gathering as much information as possible before making calls such as the decision they will face between Cabrera and Reyes. Increasingly, the choice appears more muddled.
Both are no longer considered shortstops, as Reyes has shown the last couple of days with Amed Rosario on the shelf.
The rookie was out of the lineup for a third straight day with a stomach issue that forced him to the hospital on Monday. Though he felt better yesterday, he did not appear. He could be ready by tomorrow, when the team begins a three-game set against the Nationals after today’s off day.
“I think it happened actually with a meal I ate,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “I’m not sure that it was like properly cooked. It was actually kind of cold when I ate it. I probably shouldn’t have done that. But I think that’s where it started.”
In Rosario’s absence, Reyes has been a clear downgrade at shortstop. Yesterday he finished 1-for-4 at the plate but failed to reach balls that appeared to have been in Rosario’s range. The plays cost the Mets four runs.
That lack of range is the same reason that Cabrera lost his starting job at shortstop this season, a move that he initially resisted before accepting a move to second and third.
Still, Mets officials regard both players as potentially valuable utility players. Both are switch hitters who are capable of bouncing around the infield. Both have finished the year with a flourish. Both have expressed an interest in returning.
Reyes, 34, will be a free agent who should come with an affordable price tag. He already has communicated to team officials that he wants to end his career with the Mets. Cabrera, 31, has said he wants the Mets to pick up an $8.5 million team option for next season.
Reyes is hitting .352 with five homers since Aug. 13, part of an overall bounceback after a horrific start to the season.
“I have to be happy about it because the way that I started this year,” Reyes said. “It was horrible. To come around and finish the season strong, at least to start the second half, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Cabrera has experienced a similar renaissance, with a .383 average in September.
Both have their blemishes. Reyes has looked uncomfortable while manning third base and his value will be tied to his legs, and speed declines with age. Cabrera already has had that type of decline this year, when he clearly has lost a step and his baserunning has been rated among the worst in baseball.
But Reyes still is viewed by some in the organization as valuable for the leadership he provides in the clubhouse. Meanwhile, Cabrera has adjusted best to playing third base while also offering cover at second and even first.
“I want to come back here because I feel this team is going to be in the playoffs again really soon,” Cabrera said. “We’ve got talent.”
Notes & quotes: Juan Lagares did not start in centerfield because of thumb soreness . . . Brandon Nimmo hit his fourth homer of the season . . . Jacob deGrom will start Friday’s series opener against the Nationals with Matt Harvey to start on Sunday. Robert Gsellman is listed for Saturday, though Noah Syndergaard also lines up for that day.