What's Next for Jose Reyes, Rockies Following MLB's 52-Game Suspension?

Danny KnoblerMLB Lead WriterMay 13, 2016

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2015, file photo, Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes watches from dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Denver. Colorado’s Jose Reyes has been suspended by Major League Baseball through May 31 for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.  The unpaid suspension of Reyes is retroactive to February 23, 2016, when Reyes was placed on leave pending the resolution of criminal proceedings in Hawaii.  Reyes has agreed not to appeal the discipline.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The MLB announcement Friday said Jose Reyes can come back to the major leagues on June 1.

Too bad it's not June 1, 2011.

Reyes had real value then, as a .335 hitter and a speedy shortstop who was one of the game's most exciting players. Five years on, he's no longer speedy or exciting, a decline that started before the domestic-violence incident that led to the 52-game suspension that will run out at the end of May.

Oh, and he has a contract that will pay him another $22 million in 2017 and includes a $4 million buyout option for 2018. 

He's property of the Colorado Rockies for now, but in rookie Trevor Story, they have a shortstop they actually like. Word is they have no use for Reyes, and that they didn't even before he was arrested last October for allegedly assaulting his wife in a Hawaii hotel room.

As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark tweeted after the suspension was announced:

The Rockies took on Reyes last July, only because it enabled them to save about $50 million of what they owed Troy Tulowitzki and add much-needed pitching prospects in the process. The Toronto Blue Jays were happy to move Reyes, whose offense had become nearly nonexistent and whose defense was worse.

Reyes had little value then, at age 32. He has even less value now, as he approaches his 33rd birthday on June 11.

Reyes was one of baseball's best shortstops and most exciting players with the Mets.
Reyes was one of baseball's best shortstops and most exciting players with the Mets.Paul J. Bereswill/Associated Press

ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweeted Friday morning that there were teams "interested" in dealing for Reyes, although he later clarified that by saying the Rockies would need to eat much of the money left on the contract.

Fair enough. Anyone can be traded, if you structure the deal right. If the Rockies eat much of the money and include a prospect or a draft pick, perhaps a rebuilding team like the Atlanta Braves would bite.

The Braves have big-time shortstop prospects, but their stopgap solution of using Erick Aybar at the position this year has been a disaster. The Braves' combined OPS from the shortstop position (.429) is nearly 100 points lower than the next-worst team, per FanGraphs.

As for the other teams struggling for offense at shortstop, the Los Angeles Angels expect Andrelton Simmons to come back (and just added Brendan Ryan as a stopgap), and the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers both have defense-first shortstops they like (Adeiny Hechavarria and Jose Iglesias).

Reyes wouldn't be an improvement, just as he wouldn't be an improvement over Story, who has 11 home runs and three triples and is one of the early leaders in the National League Rookie of the Year race.

If he's cheap enough, Reyes might have some value as a utility guy, but do you want him in your clubhouse if he's not playing regularly?

The Rockies haven't had to deal with Reyes so far this year, because baseball put him on paid leave while investigating the domestic-violence incident. In a statement released Friday announcing the 52-game suspension, Commissioner Rob Manfred said the investigation took this long because of criminal charges in Hawaii, which were later dismissed when Reyes' wife declined to cooperate.

In Friday's announcement, MLB made Reyes' unpaid suspension retroactive to Feb. 23, meaning he'll have to repay the salary he has already received this season. In all, he'll lose just over $7 million of the $22 million he was due in 2016.

Manfred's statement said Reyes has committed to treatment and also to contribute $100,000 to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss had to talk about Reyes Friday, but it's unlikely Reyes will play for the team again.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss had to talk about Reyes Friday, but it's unlikely Reyes will play for the team again.David Zalubowski/Associated Press/Associated Press

Reyes also released a statement Friday that said he wanted to "apologize for everything that has happened." He showed more contrition than Aroldis Chapman, who has continued to maintain he did nothing wrong in the domestic-violence incident that led to his own 30-game suspension, per Billy Witz of the New York Times.

Chapman, despite the incident, has been welcomed with open arms by the New York Yankees and by Yankee fans. A few 100 mph fastballs were all it took.

Reyes can't throw 100 mph, nor can he hit or run like he used to when he was a star with the New York Mets. If he could, the Rockies would have no problem finding a taker.

Reyes isn't that player anymore. I'm not the biggest fan of WAR as a way to evaluate players, but it's hard to argue with the Baseball-Reference.com WAR numbers for Reyes.

He peaked at 5.8 in 2006 (second to Carlos Guillen among full-time shortstops). He put up a 4.7 in 2011 (third behind Tulowitzki and Asdrubal Cabrera).

And last year? He was at 0.3. After the midseason trade to the Rockies, he was minus-0.2.

Under the terms of his suspension, Reyes can now start working out in extended spring training, and beginning June 1, he can join a minor league team for a rehabilitation assignment. Perhaps he can prove that he still has value.

The Rockies can only hope he does.

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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