NY Post, Jose Reyes is potentially preparing himself to test the free-agent waters, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson yesterday said he expects to speak with the All-Star shortstop's agents either today or tomorrow about a new contract.
But Alderson is realistic enough to know there is a strong chance Reyes will want to hear from other clubs following the World Series before making a decision on his future.
"If history is any guide, most players who get to this point don't see any reason to make a decision in the next 30 days -- they are that close to free agency," Alderson said. "You wouldn't want people to expect something is going to happen -- it certainly could -- but we just have to wait and see how it develops."
Alderson confirmed that next season's payroll likely will fall into the $100-$110 million range. This season the Mets' payroll was about $140 million.
By Alderson's math, the Mets could re-sign Reyes and still have money to make other improvements. Alderson said the team might actually be in better shape headed to this offseason than last. He cited the fact the Mets had about $130 million committed to payroll at this time last year, opposed to the $75 million (minus Reyes) locked up already for 2012.
Even if the Mets were to pay Reyes north of $20 million next year, Alderson would have some -- albeit not much -- wiggle room.
Though Alderson wouldn't rule out pursuing another star player should Reyes depart, he said the priority is to re-sign the NL batting champion because of the intrinsic value he brings to the organization, as a fan favorite.
"We could get into a free agency situation beyond Jose if the market is different than what we anticipated or we trade somebody," Alderson said. "There are a variety of things that could happen."
It's not expected the "somebody" in a trade would be David Wright, who spent much of the season recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back and batted just .254 with 14 homers and 61 RBIs -- especially because Wright's contract runs only through next season, with a club option for 2013. But if Wright is traded, he could void that option and become a free agent after next season.
Other than shortstop, the Mets will have to address center field -- Angel Pagan is coming off a disappointing season, and the club will have to decide whether to offer him arbitration.
"We have to look at our whole outfield situation and see where we are," Alderson said. "There are offensive considerations, defensive considerations. Our defense needs to be improved dramatically. That could come from healthier players [or] acquisitions.
"Center field is a critical position for us in this ballpark. With or without changes in the fences, center field will remain a significant position for us defensively."
The Mets might head to spring training with the same rotation, provided they re-sign Chris Capuano. The wild card is Johan Santana, who missed the entire season recovering from shoulder surgery.
As for the bullpen, Alderson seems committed to an overhaul. Finding a new closer remains atop the list, but Alderson didn't rule out the possibility of staying in-house. That would presumably mean perhaps taking a longer look at Manny Acosta and Bobby Parnell next spring as part of a group competition for the job.
"It may turn out that next year the closer has come from the organization," Alderson said. "But I think we need to provide ourselves with the kinds of options that exist."