By Ernie Palladino
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In Reyes’ case, it probably means the old Met will be heading out of the area entirely. For the Yankees’ young Montgomery, it means a relatively shorter trip from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
At least Montgomery won’t have to pack.
Reyes, though, will probably be on the move after this disaster of a Mets season is finished. Versatility aside, the 34-year-old’s services will no longer be required now that his original organization seems to be leaning toward picking up Asdrubal sCabrera’s economical $8.5 million option and planting him at third while Amed Rosario mans shortstop. Reyes will be a free agent, and there’s no way the Mets are going to turn him into a premium insurance policy at either position after paying him just $507,000 this year.
Perhaps someone looking for a former All-Star who still has enough left to start and play a half-decent leadoff will give him his price. But it appears the Mets will gladly make do at third with Cabrera, whose price tag will override the fact that Cabrera’s affection for his manager and organization seems as fickle as April weather.
Rosario’s long-awaited promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday all but sealed Reyes’ fate. The front office saw Rosario as the future at shortstop, and the fans’ anticipation of seeing the prized prospect in a major league uniform grew exponentially as the season spiraled downhill. Now that even the most optimistic company men and women have admitted the postseason is no longer in play, the final two months have turned into the ideal training ground for Rosario to fast-study himself into position for next season.
That leaves Reyes as the odd man out. And that will mean the end of his second go-around in Flushing.
The Yanks’ left-handed rookie gets to stay, though he’ll probably have to adjust to a new role. With trade piece Jaime Garcia in line to make his pinstripe debut Friday following Thursday’s opening of the Sonny Gray era, manager Joe Girardi will probably — and wisely — abandoned the six-man rotation the two trades created.
He does, of course, have the option to go with the expanded rotation and keep Montgomery, who has done an overall great job as a complement to Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Luis Severino. The extra rest day might even help the 36-year-old Sabathia. But it may hurt the others. Pitchers in the five-man era, like those of the three-man and four-man rotation days, are creatures of habit. Disrupting the rhythm of their seasons could cause problems, and the Yanks don’t need that as they chase the lead in the AL East.
So Montgomery, despite a 7-6, 4.15 year that looked a lot better before Minnesota and Tampa Bay shelled him in two of his last three outings, will likely head to the bullpen as Gray and Garcia become the two newest starters. That will help him stay well under the 140-inning limit management placed on him. And with only 110 2/3 innings to date, he’ll have plenty of wiggle room to return to the rotation in the event of injury.
Montgomery will still have a role on a division title contender — and a rather important one — for the rest of this season and beyond.
Reyes has simply become an extra piece with a future far more expensive than the sunken Mets will choose to afford.
They are both odd men out.
But what that means for each of them is as different as night and day.
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