If it were up to Jose Reyes, he’d spend the rest of his major league career at Citi Field. “Did I want to come here? For sure,” the 34-year-old shortstop told reporters. “Do I want to finish my career here? One hundred percent.” He emphasized that point with a pair of home runs during Friday’s 5-1 win over the Reds, boosting his batting line to a still-mediocre .238/.307/.402 as he nears free agency at the end of the season.
Still, it’s clear Reyes has something left in the tank, and whatever he can’t produce on the field, he makes up for in veteran presence and leadership. Comments from club manager Terry Collins indicate that Reyes is a role model in the clubhouse and has played a key part in guiding top infield prospect Amed Rosario over the last month. That, coupled with his relative affordability, could be enough to sway the Mets in his favor.
Finding a role for Reyes on the field is a different story. Asdrubal Cabrera‘s flexibility at short and third base — .266/.337/.415 batting line notwithstanding– could eliminate Reyes from the Mets’ infield mix altogether if the team picks up Cabrera’s $8.5 million option this winter. Backup infielder Matt Reynolds and rookie Gavin Cecchini also give the club some necessary infield depth, though neither have Reyes’ experience in the clubhouse or on the field. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of the domestic violence charges brought against the veteran shortstop in 2016, an issue the team continues to look past after Reyes completed the 52-game suspension mandated by MLB last May.
For now, however, the Mets are sitting pat while the rest of the season plays out. With Cabrera sidelined due to a hamstring issue and Rosario still adjusting to the big leagues, Reyes has a brief window to beef up his second-half stats (.288/.355/.468 with four home runs and an .822 OPS entering Saturday) and tip the scales in his favor this offseason. Collins, though a self-proclaimed fan of the 34-year-old, wouldn’t commit either way when pressed about Reyes’ future. “No doubt about it, Jose Reyes, he’s going to be somewhere,” he said. “And he’ll be playing a lot, too.”
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.