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Mets already plotting how to use soon-to-be-released Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes is expected to become a free agent at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Colorado Rockies acknowledged placing him on outright release waivers on Thursday. AP Photo/Matt York

ATLANTA -- The New York Mets are optimistic enough that they will land soon-to-be-released Jose Reyes that the coaching staff already has discussed how to use him.

Reyes is expected to become a free agent at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Colorado Rockies acknowledged placing Reyes on outright release waivers on Thursday.

Reyes is expected to go unclaimed and become a free agent. Otherwise, a claiming team would have to assume the roughly $39 million owed to Reyes.

Reyes wants a reunion with the Mets, and the feeling appears mutual. He makes his offseason home in Old Brookville on Long Island.

Manager Terry Collins said on Friday afternoon that the Mets will consider using Reyes as an outfielder.

“We took Matt Reynolds and put him out there with no experience at all,” Collins said, alluding to Reynolds starting Wednesday’s game against the Kansas City Royals in left field. “This guy is as good an athlete as certainly Matt is. He’s got the arm. He’s got the foot speed for it. These are just things we’re tossing around.”

The staff also has discussed whether it would be wiser for Reyes to primarily be a third or second baseman, or serve in a pure utility role. A natural shortstop, Reyes would back up Asdrubal Cabrera at that position, but would not dislodge Cabrera.

The Mets also will strongly consider having Reyes lead off, as he did during his first tour of duty with the organization. Reyes would give the Mets a speed element they desperately lack, although at 33 years old he has lost a little from his prime.

“That’s what he does. That’s who he is,” Collins said. “We’ve tossed that around.”

The Rockies designated Reyes for assignment last Wednesday. He last played in a game on June 12 with Triple-A Albuquerque, in a series against the Mets’ Pacific Coast League affiliate. Because of the layoff, Reyes would be expected to go to the minors for at least a short period. It also would afford Reyes the opportunity to gain familiarity with positions outside of shortstop.

“We’ve talked as a staff about, hey, if he happens to come here, where would he play? How would he fit? Where would we hit him? How much would we play him?” Collins said. “All of those things we’ve sat with the coaches and talked about. We have nothing etched in stone, because he’s not here. It’s like everything else, even though they’re not here, you’ve got to have some type of plan in mind when he does get here, especially at this particular time of year.”

Reyes originally signed with the Mets at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic in 1999. He played for the organization through the 2011 season, after which he departed for a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins.

“He was a great player,” Collins said. “I haven’t seen him in recent years, but he did a lot of things. He was a good hitter. He could fly. He’s got a great arm. He played very good shortstop. He brought a lot to the party. One of the things that probably caught my imagination was his joy of playing in New York. He loved it. That’s why he moved there. He loved being there. He loved playing in New York. It’s a tough place, because you’re going to have some bad times and some bad days. But he always had a smile. And when he didn’t, something was wrong, and you knew it. And that was the easiest kind of way to judge that it’s time for a day off.

“In my time around him, he was a joy to be around. I just hope if it works out that he’s that same guy.”