Mets lock up Reyes with four-year, $23.25 million deal

Updated: August 3, 2006, 11:33 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes can count on buying a nice, big house in New York.

Shortstop
New York Mets

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
100 10 45 88 .350 .293

The speedy All-Star shortstop signed a $23.25 million, four-year contract extension with the Mets on Thursday, the sides working quickly this week to ensure him a home through the 2010 season.

Reyes leads the majors in stolen bases and triples and is among the leaders in hits and runs. The leadoff man is a big reason the Mets have the best record in the league and a whopping edge in the NL East.

The 23-year-old Reyes could have been eligible for salary arbitration after this season, and could have become a free agent following the 2009 season. Instead, he opted for future security.

"I think it's going to be great for me and my family," he said from Florida, before the Mets played the Marlins. "I know that I'm going to be there for a long time."

Reyes had wanted to buy a place in the New York area. Before this deal, "he might've been looking at a much more modest home," agent Peter Greenberg said.

Reyes is making $401,500 this season. His contract includes a $1.5 million signing bonus and a team option at $11 million for the 2011 season.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya said he prefers not to make these kind of deals during the season. In this case, however, "we felt it was something good for Jose and the organization."

Minaya said he approached Greenberg on Sunday, and they agreed to open a 72-hour window to complete a deal. They extended that by a day, and got it done.

"Jose is one of the most exciting young players in the game today," Minaya said. "He is one of the lightning rods for our offense."

Reyes was hitting .293 with 20 doubles, 13 triples, 10 home runs and 45 RBI going into Thursday night's game. The switch-hitter also had 44 steals, had scored 88 runs and hit for the cycle earlier this season.

"He's a young, raw talent," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's having a tremendous year. It's exciting to think and dream about what he can do. The ceiling's really high.

"He's the catalyst for us. He's our igniter. When he's not in there, you can see it. He's a special player, man. He's one of those guys where you go, wow, he can be pretty special."

Randolph was not worried about Reyes slowing down because of the rich contract.

"I won't let him become fat," he said.

Assured Reyes: "I'm going to keep playing hard."

Reyes signed with the Mets at 16 as a free agent from the Dominican Republic. He was hampered by injuries earlier in his career, but blossomed after moving over from second base and becoming the Mets' full-time shortstop last year.

Reyes was voted by fans to start the All-Star game last month, but was not able to play because of a deep cut on his left pinkie. He hurt himself making a headfirst slide into first base and needed seven stitches.

Along with the signing bonus, Reyes will get salaries of $2.5 million in 2007, $4 million in 2008, $5.75 million in 2009 and $9 million in 2010. There is a $500,000 buyout if the Mets do not pick up his option for 2011.

Greenberg said Reyes realized he might have earned more money going year-by-year on contracts, but the lure of guaranteed money made the deal worth it.

"The commitment from ownership is to sign our core players to long-term contracts so they can be part of the team for years to come," Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press