But they and other teams have been free to gauge Reyes' interest since the Rockies placed him on release waivers Thursday, despite not being able to discuss contract specifics until Reyes clears the waiver process. That much is inevitable, because any team that claims Reyes would be on the hook for the more than $40 million the Rockies still owe him. By signing Reyes after he becomes a free agent, the Mets would be responsible only for a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum, roughly $300,000. They cannot offer him performance incentives on top of that.
In short, regardless of where Reyes signs, he will make the same amount of money. So the only factors he can weigh are lifestyle and geographic ones, and Reyes has sent signals to the Mets that he is extremely interested in a reunion. The Mets are likewise interested, provided Reyes shows contrition for the domestic violence arrest that cost him 52 games earlier this season.
Reyes, 33, played for the Mets from 2003-11, making four All-Star teams and setting franchise records in triples and stolen bases that still stand today.
"He was a great player," manager Terry Collins said. "I haven't seen him in recent years, but he did a lot of things. He was a good hitter. He could fly. He's got a great arm. He played a very good shortstop. He brought a lot to the party."
If Reyes returns to New York, the Mets expect to send him to the Minors -- he still has available options, so they could do so without penalty -- in part to learn third base. After a week to 10 days there, Reyes would rejoin the Mets as a super sub, taking his turn at three infield positions. But he would not supplant Asdrubal Cabrera or Neil Walker as a starting middle infielder.
Collins has already talked with his coaching staff about those options, in addition to less orthodox ones like asking Reyes to play the outfield. The Mets simply want his bat in the lineup, hoping it can jump-start an offense ranked last in the Majors in runs scored and batting average since May 1. Though Reyes has posted merely a .709 OPS since the start of 2014, and has not played in the big leagues this season, he is a former batting champion whom the Mets feel can help them.
By the hour, it is a possibility growing closer to reality.
"We don't worry about guys we don't have," Collins said. "But we're still in the business of being in baseball, so you have to discuss it. It's the old, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire' sort of thing."