The first solid offer for the services of Jose Reyes has seen the light of day – and it foretells bad news for the Mets. The reliable Fox Sports duo of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reported early this morning that the Miami Marlins have extended an initial offer of six years, $90 million for Reyes
What it does not mean: Jose Reyes is a Marlin. That’s not true, not yet. The Marlins have made their interest no secret. Reyes arrived in town as part of Miami’s free-agent tour last week, when they brought pitcher Mark Buehrle, Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes and World Series champion Albert Pujols into Little Havana to see the club’s new ballpark.
Understand that Miami does, indeed, want to sign Reyes. But there is little reason for Reyes to accept the first offer. That’s not how negotiating works.
What it does mean: If the Mets still harbor hopes for retaining Reyes, they are in trouble. General manager Sandy Alderson has always desired payroll flexibility, and another lengthy, expensive contract does not aid that pursuit.
The Mets don’t want to give Reyes a contract that lasts six or seven years. This much is obvious. Last winter, Alderson mocked the Nationals for inking Jayson Werth to a seven-year deal. He has been burned by long-term deals in Oakland, and appears uninterested in a repeat of the past.
Which makes the stance of Reyes’ camp difficult for Alderson to counter. Alderson reportedly asked Reyes’ agents how much it would take to re-sign the shortstop. There was no answer. That is smart negotiating. There was no reason for the folks at Peter Greenberg & Associates to set the market for their player.
Now, Alderson knows at least the minimum price. The issue for him now appears to be less the annual cost, but more the number of years. So if the Mets truly want to bring back Reyes, they must venture outside their comfort zone. This is not unexpected. Otherwise, they must be content with another team acquiring Reyes, who is so capable of brilliance yet still hampered by injuries.
What happens next: Most likely, everyone waits. The market for Reyes includes more than the Mets and the Marlins. Milwaukee is interested. So is Detroit. The Winter Meetings are still three weeks away. Veterans of the baseball trade circle that week-long junket as time when these deals usually get done.
In that time, the Mets might increase their offer. They might bow out. We really don’t know. That might not sit well with Mets fans. But so it goes.