Future uncertain, Reyes enjoying time with Mets

September 4th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- leaned forward in his chair in the visitor's clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, shaking his head as he acknowledged a truth he'd rather not admit.

"I know I'm not going to be here next year," Reyes said Monday. "So, for me, it's taking every opportunity and trying to enjoy the game, because I don't even know if I'm going to be playing baseball next year. I just need to enjoy this month of the season around my teammates, because I don't know what the future holds for me."

Sensing that he has entered his final month with the Mets, Reyes has taken to soaking up what memories he can at the tail end of what he called "the worst year of my career."

While the 35-year-old has not ruled out pursuing a return to the Mets -- he said he would have no problems accepting a Minor League deal next offseason -- he understands the feeling probably won't be mutual. With infielders , , Jeff McNeil, and all due to return in 2019, there is not much opportunity for Reyes, who entered Monday batting .198 with four home runs, five stolen bases and a .604 OPS in 96 games.

Unlike last year, when Reyes hit .199 over his first 75 games but rebounded to bat .295 with an .865 OPS the rest of the way, earning a $2 million contract over the winter, his turnaround this summer has been less dramatic. Since July 14, Reyes is batting .264 with an .853 OPS.

"Even though I've been better lately, it hasn't been that good," said Reyes, who was out of the starting lineup for the series opener against the Dodgers for the 10th time in the Mets' last 12 games. "This has been my worst season ever."

For months, Reyes has theorized that not playing every day contributed to his issues, but that much will not change in September. McNeil's emergence as a potential starting second baseman has gutted Reyes' playing time, and Rosario and Frazier have monopolized time on the left side of the infield. The latter two are guaranteed starting spots on next year's roster, while either McNeil or an offseason acquisition will start at second.

That leaves Reyes, the Mets' all-time leader in triples and stolen bases, without a role.

Even though Reyes has said often he wants to retire a Met, he would rather sign elsewhere than retire.

"I've been in this game for a long time, man," Reyes said, noting that he feels as healthy as at any point during his 16-year career. "But this is what I love to do. If my body says yes, if there's some opportunity there, maybe I'll take it."

In the interim, Reyes will continue to soak up time with Rosario, his mentee, as well as , who returned to the Mets' clubhouse last weekend. If nothing else, one significant Mets moment still awaits Reyes, who wants to play one last time beside Wright on the left side of the Mets' infield -- something that has not happened since 2011.

"It's going to be emotional because me and David have a very tight relationship," Reyes said. "We still joke around the way that we did 10 years ago. You don't see that too often. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it happens."