ATLANTA — The New York Mets signed shortstop Jose Reyes to a minor league contract on Saturday, creating a reunion with the team's former star who now must overcome a suspension for domestic violence as he attempts to revive his career.
In a move general manager Sandy Alderson said was unrelated, slumping outfielder Michael Conforto was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and outfielder Brandon Nimmo was called up to be with the team for Saturday night's game at the Atlanta Braves.
Reyes, 33, played primarily at shortstop for the Mets from 2003-11, but may be used in a utility role in his return to the organization. Alderson said Reyes will play this base in his first minor league game with the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones on Sunday.
Alderson said Reyes also will work in the outfield.
Reyes was cut by Colorado after serving a 59-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. He became a free agent on Saturday.
Alderson said on a conference call he believes Reyes deserves a second chance, though he acknowledged he expects some fans will not agree with the decision.
"I do believe he is a good person at heart, a good person who made a big mistake and a good person who deserves a second chance with conditions," Alderson said, adding one condition is Reyes must continue
Alderson was asked what he would say to fans offended by the decision to sign Reyes.
"I think we fully understand there will be differences of opinion about this. Some people will feel strongly and differently. I think we accept that and we respect that. All I can say is Jose and the organization will be held to a standard going forward that recognizes the seriousness of domestic abuse and commitment to stand against it."
The Rockies are responsible for the $39 million remaining on his contract, minus the prorated share of the $507,500 major league minimum to be paid by the Mets.
In a statement released by the Mets, Reyes repeated his apology for the arrest.
"As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family," Reyes said.
"I have completed the
Alderson said Reyes will not play shortstop. Reyes' first chance with the Mets could come at third base. David Wright could miss the remainder of the season following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. First baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Juan Lagares also are on the disabled list.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday he and his coaches already have discussed using Reyes at other positions, including second base and the outfield.
Reyes has a .290 career batting average and had four straight seasons with 50 or more steals with the Mets. He hit a combined .274 with Toronto and Colorado in 2015 while playing only at shortstop.
Conforto is hitting only .222 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. He enjoyed a strong start, hitting .365 with four homers and 18 RBIs in April. His production then sharply declined. He hit only .169 in May and .119 with 22 strikeouts and seven hits in 59 at-bats this month. Overall he has hit only .091 against left-handers.
Alderson said the decision to send Conforto back to the minors was made after he failed to find his stroke in a stretch of facing primarily right-handed pitchers over 10 games.
"I think in talking with the coaching staff and manager at some point this is counterproductive and it was time to get him to Las Vegas and get his swing back and hopefully get him back here in a short period of time. ... Frankly we felt we put it off a little too long and maybe to Michael's detriment."
Conforto's struggles were a surprise following a promising debut in 2015. He hit .333 with two homers in the World Series after hitting .270 with nine homers in 56 games as a rookie.
Nimmo, the Mets' first-round pick in 2011, was hitting .328 with five homers and 37 RBIs at Las Vegas.