NEW YORK -- The popup was routine, the type Jose Reyes has caught so many times before in his career. But as this one nestled in Reyes' glove to open the ninth inning Wednesday, it was as if thousands at Citi Field noticed him for the first time. From center
NEW YORK -- The popup was routine, the type Jose Reyes has caught so many times before in his career. But as this one nestled in Reyes' glove to open the ninth inning Wednesday, it was as if thousands at Citi Field noticed him for the first time. From center field, the 7 Line cheering section began chanting Reyes' name. Fans throughout the stadium followed suit.
Reyes does not know if Wednesday's 7-1 win over the Braves -- during which he hit an RBI double in his last at-bat -- was his final game at Citi, at least as a Met. He does not want it to be. But in the aftermath of the victory, while his teammates taped closed boxes and zipped up duffel bags, Reyes acknowledged that he may have played his last home game in New York.
"A lot of stuff went through my head because I don't know if I'm going to be here next year," Reyes said. "I'm a free agent. I want to be here. But to see them cheering my name like that, that was an unbelievable feeling. I appreciate that from the fans, for the love that they showed me. We'll see what happens. It's going to be an interesting offseason."
On multiple occasions, Reyes has indicated his desire to return to the Mets, even if they have no spot for him as a starting player. In what will be his age-35 season, Reyes knows he is no longer the type of talent that made four All-Star teams in his 20s, winning the batting title in 2011. But Reyes has nonetheless been useful to the Mets this season -- particularly during a second half that has seen him hit .289 with six home runs and three triples to go with 14 stolen bases in 60 games. Defensively, Reyes has played second and third base, shortstop and even left field.
The problem is that the Mets are nearly certain to exercise Asdrubal Cabrera's 2018 contract option and acquire an additional starting infielder, leaving Reyes without an obvious home. The roster features younger backups in Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini, Matt Reynolds and T.J. Rivera.
Still, the Mets have been enthralled with Reyes' presence in the clubhouse, most notably his mentorship of Amed Rosario. If Reyes truly wants to return as much as he says, there is a chance the two sides will be able to hammer out a deal.
"A year ago when we got him, if you would have been in the clubhouse when he walked in with that big smile, happy to be back, the clubhouse lit up," manager Terry Collins said. "His energy on the field is contagious. He plays the game hard. He always runs hard. He always likes to play. He always gets ready to play. He's funny. He keeps guys loose. … You need that kind of energy on a club."
A fan favorite dating back to his rookie year in 2003, Reyes maintains even now that he never wanted to leave as a free agent after the 2011 season. But the Mets, in Sandy Alderson's first full offseason as general manager, did not make Reyes even a token offer to stay. He moved on to Miami, then Toronto and Colorado, returning to Flushing after serving a 51-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. Reyes maintains his primary offseason home on Long Island.
"I never wanted to leave New York, but unfortunately that happened," Reyes said. "I don't even want to leave now, the second time. Now, I'm at the end of my career. I'd love to end my career here as a New York Met. But that's a decision that I don't have."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.