Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets are “debating internally” whether or not to sign shortstop Jose Reyes. In particular, the Mets are considering a potential public relations fallout, as Reyes served a 52-game suspension for allegedly hitting his wife during the offseason.
The Rockies designated Reyes for assignment last week and he’s expected to pass through waivers unclaimed, which would make him a free agent. In that case, the Mets — or any other interested team — would only be on the hook for the prorated major league minimum salary. The Rockies owe him $22 million for this season, $22 million in 2017, and $4 million to buy him out of the final year of his deal, which is a $22 million club option.
Reyes hit an aggregate .274/.310/.378 with seven home runs and 53 RBI between the Blue Jays and Rockies last season. The Jays sent him to Colorado ahead of the trade deadline last year along with Miguel Castro and minor leaguers Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco in exchange for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
While baseball has certainly made progress in dealing with domestic abusers, they could be doing more, as could individual teams. The Mets could make a strong statement by refusing to consider signing Reyes based on what he allegedly did over the offseason. Players have been blackballed for much less, like Barry Bonds after putting up a 1.045 OPS in 2007. Bonds was willing to play for the major league minimum salary and yet no team dared to sign him, strangely. If Bonds — an alleged abuser himself — can be eschewed from the game, so too can alleged domestic abusers. Reyes is not owed an opportunity to play in the majors, or the minors for that matter.
At the very least, teams that continue to pay alleged abusers — or Major League Baseball as a whole — could require players to make a concerted outreach. That could include, as an example, speaking to young men to help, as Jesse Spector of Sporting News put it, “stop perpetuating the cycle of violence.”
That these alleged abusers continue to easily find work sends the message that teams and the sport as a whole values players’ abilities to hit homers, make flashy plays, or rack up strikeouts more than the safety of the players’ partners, children, and other people in their lives. It sends an unwelcoming message to fans who have been victims. Baseball can and should be doing better.