Reyes returns to Mets; Yankees nearing buy-sell decision

Jose Reyes takes ground balls at third base, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in New York. Reyes, a former New York Mets shortstop, was signed by the Mets after the Colorado Rockies released him. Reyes served a 51-game suspension under Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Jose Reyes makes his return to Citi Field tonight, as the former Mets’ shortstop will play third base and lead off against Miami.

Reyes, released by the Colorado Rockies last month, will play in the majors for the first time this season. He had been suspended 52 games at the start of the 2016 season for a domestic violence incident involving his wife this past offseason.

Reyes spent nine years with the Mets, capping his career with a National League batting title in 2011 before leaving via free agency for Miami in 2012. Miami then traded Reyes to Toronto in a megadeal following the 2012 campaign. Reyes spent two and a half injury plagued seasons with the Blue Jays before he was flipped to Colorado in the Troy Tulowitzki trade last summer.

Reyes has played 20 games in the minor leagues this season with the Rockies and Mets, hitting .239 with two home runs and four RBI. With David Wright out for the season, the Mets do need some backup at third base and they’re hoping Reyes still has what it takes to be an offensive force at the big league level.

Speed was always Reyes’ biggest skill during his heyday with the Mets but that appears to be gone now at age 33. He’s hit 20 triples since leaving the Mets, a far cry from the 19 triples he hit in the 2008 season alone. Reyes led the National League in steals from 2005-07 (60, 64, 78) but stole just 54 bags between 2014-15. He’s never played a single inning at third base in the majors, so he’ll have some defensive adjustments to make.

Yet this is a low-risk move for the Mets. One, Reyes has apologized for his off-field actions. That doesn’t erase what Reyes did, but the Mets seem willing to give him a second chance. Two, the Rockies ate the remainder of his contract when he was released, so this doesn’t cost the Mets very much. If Reyes doesn’t pan out, the Mets can dump him at any time. If he does, it provides the team with some infield depth an a top-of-the-order hitter.

Just over the halfway point of the season, the Yankees are two games under .500 at 40-42. Baltimore (47 wins), Boston (45) and Toronto (46) have pretty significant leads in the AL East and the Yankees are 4 and 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card standings.

The Yankees finish up the first half of the season with two games against the White Sox in Chicago and four games in Cleveland before the All-Star break.

Even if the Yankees were to win six straight, 46-42 isn’t a position in which this team normally finds itself in mid-July.

So do the Yankees become sellers?

Increasingly, the answer looks like yes. If so, there are two players that the Yankees have to move before the trade deadline.

Carlos Beltran, a free agent at season’s end, is having a tremendous year and could be a major help to AL clubs in need of a designated hitter. Beltran has a long history as a postseason performer and would likely accept an opportunity to make another October run. With Alex Rodriguez a DH only at this point in his career, trading Beltran would free up some much-needed space on the Yankees’ 25-man roster. Outfield prospect Aaron Judge could get a chance to prove himself at the major league level over the final 75 games of the regular season. The Yankees could conceivably get a close-to-ready starting pitching prospect in return for Beltran, which would benefit the team greatly in 2017.

One other player the Yankees have to seriously consider dealing is Aroldis Chapman. A team going nowhere doesn’t need a great closer – never mind three – and Chapman, like Beltran, is a free agent after this season. The Yankees could offer Chapman a qualifying offer and get a pick at the end of the first round of the 2017 draft when Chapman signs elsewhere. The Yankees could also get much more value for Chapman in a July trade, including players who are closer to the majors. A left-handed closer who throws 100 miles per hour is going to fetch quite a haul on the trade market and the Yankees would be foolish not to entertain offers from contenders over the next few weeks. If this team is serious about rebuilding for 2017, a Chapman trade could net the Yankees a player or two who could be contributors in a hurry.

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