Mets ink shortstop Reyes to Minors deal

Four-time All-Star to join Class A Brooklyn for 7-10 days

Mets ink shortstop Reyes to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Jose Reyes arrived in Flushing at age 19, still raw but one of the most intriguing prospects in franchise history. He signed a long-term deal, made four All-Star teams and won a batting title during a nine-year tenure in Queens, leaving as a free agent at age 28.

Now one of the more dynamic players to don a Mets uniform has returned. The club announced Saturday that it has signed Reyes to a Minor League deal, after the Rockies officially released him following a 52-game domestic violence suspension. Reyes will report to Class A Short Season Brooklyn on Sunday, playing third base and the outfield for approximately seven to 10 days before returning to Queens.

The Mets signed Reyes only after being satisfied with his remorse regarding his domestic violence case, and under the condition that he will continue to undergo counseling.

"We're acutely aware of the issue that exists," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so if you think of it in those terms, as not just an organization but as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt he deserved a second chance -- and that that second chance was most appropriate with us, a place where he spent a lot of his formative years."

Reyes, in a statement, added: "As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family. I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York."

Over the past week, the Mets' desire to reunite with Reyes blossomed from improbable to likely. The field staff went as far as to discuss details of his usage, including a likely role as leadoff hitter and super-sub with defensive responsibilities at second, shortstop and third base, plus perhaps even left or center field. The Mets believe that Reyes, their franchise leader in triples and stolen bases, is athletic enough to adapt to the latter three positions that he has never played in the Majors.

"I think he brings something to the table, something to our team, obviously that we don't have," manager Terry Collins said.

Financially, the risk is low. The Mets will be responsible only for a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum, roughly $300,000, while the Rockies will pick up the rest of the nearly $40 million they still owe him.

It's Reyes' potential ability to play third that most sparked the Mets' interest after David Wright underwent likely season-ending neck surgery last week. The Mets also ramped up their pursuit of Cuban free agent Yulieski Gurriel at that time, with team insiders saying the club's signing of Reyes has no bearing on their interest in Gurriel.

In that, and so many other ways, Reyes' signing is a unique case. It comes after his October arrest for domestic violence, after he allegedly attacked and injured his wife in a hotel room in Hawaii. Reyes did not stand trial due to a lack of cooperation from his wife, but did serve a Major League Baseball-mandated 52-game suspension. He played on a Minor League rehab assignment for the Rockies, who placed him on waivers once the maximum rehab window expired.

Once that happened, the Mets began having conversations with Reyes regarding his interest in returning to New York. That included a face-to-face, hour-long conversation with Alderson, mostly about Reyes' domestic violence charge.

"I do believe that he is a good person at heart -- a good person that made a huge mistake, and a good person who deserves a second chance with conditions," Alderson said. "And that I think is what we've established."

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon oversaw "every step" of the process to bring Reyes back to Flushing, according to the GM.

"Do I think this is in the best interest of the Mets at this time and the best interest of Jose? Yes, I do," Alderson said. "We have done everything we can to consider the other issues and make ourselves comfortable that Jose understands the mistake he made, and has taken responsibility for it, but at the same time doesn't deserve to be ostracized. Other people will have a different point of view. … I go back to the fact that he was with this organization as a teenager, as a young adult, and during all of that time with us -- admittedly a few years ago -- he was a very good citizen across the board.

"We are confident we're going to get the best possible version of today's Jose Reyes."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.