NEW YORK -- When the Mets debuted José Reyes as a 19-year-old shortstop prospect in 2003, it signaled the beginning of an era. David Wright followed a year later, followed by Carlos Beltrán, Carlos Delgado and so many others as the Mets developed into one of the National League’s most
NEW YORK -- When the Mets debuted José Reyes as a 19-year-old shortstop prospect in 2003, it signaled the beginning of an era. David Wright followed a year later, followed by Carlos Beltrán, Carlos Delgado and so many others as the Mets developed into one of the National League’s most exciting teams.
Perhaps none of them encapsulated the Mets’ youth and exuberance as much as Reyes, whose high-octane style of play came to define the franchise. On Wednesday, following a season and a half away from professional baseball, the 37-year-old Reyes officially announced his retirement.
“As a young boy growing up in the Dominican Republic, I could have never dreamed of achieving all that I have through this incredible game,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
Reyes last appeared in the Majors in 2018 for the Mets, though his most significant impact came in the years following his 2003 debut. Each summer from 2005-07, he led the NL in stolen bases, swiping 202 during that three-year stretch. The switch-hitting Reyes later won a batting title with a .337 average in 2011 before leaving for Miami via free agency after that season.
He retired with a .283 career average, 145 home runs, 131 triples and 517 stolen bases. He is the Mets’ all-time leader in triples and steals, and he ranks 33rd all-time on MLB’s career stolen-base list.
“The first word that comes to mind for me when I think of José is just ‘dynamic,’” Wright said. “He was a guy that could just do it all -- lightning speed, hit for average, hit for power, a rocket arm, could cover so much ground at shortstop. It was like if you were going to build a baseball player on a videogame, he would have a lot of the same attributes that José brought to real life.”
For years, Wright and Reyes were linked as the defining Mets stars of that era -- as Wright noted, “It was just a comforting feeling for me, playing third base, and looking to my left and seeing José there.” But the marriage did not last. When Reyes reached free agency after the 2011 season, the Mets never made him an offer; he instead signed a six-year, $106 million deal with the Marlins, who traded him to the Blue Jays after one season. Reyes stayed in Toronto until the Blue Jays dealt him to the Rockies in 2015.
That October, police arrested Reyes in Hawaii and charged him with allegedly assaulting his wife. Prosecutors later dropped those charges, but Reyes was suspended 51 games for violating MLB’s joint domestic violence policy.
The Mets signed him the following year, bringing him back for the final three seasons of his career.
“As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family,” Reyes said at the time. “I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York.”
By that point, Reyes was not the same player, batting just .238 with 38 steals over those three seasons. The team gave him an unofficial send-off in the final game of the 2018 season, knowing he would likely either retire or join another team.
Reyes continued to work out, but receiving no Major League offers, eventually decided to retire. He still lives on Long Island, where he is enjoying a second career as a successful musician.
“Mets fans, what can I say?” Reyes wrote in his retirement post. “We never got the ring we hoped we would get. But I can't imagine playing in front of any better fans in fans in the whole world.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.