Commentary

For Reyes, Mets' caution will cost 'em

Alderson decided not to lock Jose down -- now he'll have to pony up to keep him

Updated: June 22, 2011, 10:49 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes might have entertained an extension offer last offseason. Actually, he probably would have, coming off a 2010 season in which he was tormented by thyroid and oblique problems and was still a season away from free agency.

[+] EnlargeJose Reyes
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicJose Reyes' monster year means the Mets won't get the bargain they would've gotten this past winter to keep the shortstop.

But given Reyes now has his health and has put up monster numbers, it is no wonder his agent, Peter Greenberg, politely told GM Sandy Alderson this week after consulting with his client that there would be no in-season contract talks.

The official reason is Reyes wants to avoid distraction. And I don't doubt that's a major component.

Still, the bottom line is this: There may very well be Carl Crawford money out there for Reyes. And given he has gone this far, how could he not test free agency? Even Alderson expected as much.

"I'm not sure I would even label it a disappointment in the sense that it wasn't a surprise," Alderson said.

Alderson maintained he has no regrets about opting not to attempt to lock up Reyes last offseason, when the cost would have been lower. Yet that cautious tact was no surprise, either.

The GM has been consistently deliberate, even holding onto Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo into spring training to evaluate their play with his own eyes before cutting ties. So there was no wonder Alderson waited with Reyes, too.

"Everything we've done since I became involved with the Mets I think has been consistent," Alderson said. "It was important for me and for others new to the organization to have a chance to observe Jose. We've certainly had a chance to do that. It's all been very positive. So we'll see where it takes us."

Industry sources have said for a while that the expectation is Reyes will remain a Met after the trading deadline -- which is a different fate from Carlos Beltran in all likelihood. Alderson semi-confirmed Reyes sticking around Tuesday. The GM said whether the Mets are in or out of the race on July 31 would not be a determinative factor in Reyes being traded. In essence, if the Mets are overwhelmed, as is the case with any player, they will be receptive. If not, which is the likelihood, expect Reyes to remain through season's end.

So the Mets will make an attempt to sign Reyes next offseason -- probably offering too few years and dollars relative to the winning bidder. And they will collect a pair of draft picks assuming Reyes signs elsewhere.

"I think if we're in it, it would be hard for me to see us trading Jose Reyes," Alderson said. "If we're out of it, I don't think being out of it dictates anything. ... Whether we're winning or losing is a lot less relevant in Jose's case."

Of course, it would have been easier for Alderson if Greenberg had given a ballpark figure of what Reyes might be seeking this winter. That way, Alderson could make a more educated calculation about whether it's worth a second half of Reyes and draft picks as opposed to whatever package might be offered by another team at the deadline.

But what is ever easy in New York?

"Obviously we want to act in the best interest of the Mets long term," Alderson said. "At this point, by virtue of reaching out to Jose, I think it's an indication that we feel that having Jose with us long term would be a real positive."

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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