NY Daily News, Seven Mets were among the 148 major leaguers listed by the Players' Association as free agents Sunday, but all winter intrigue in Flushing will involve one name, Jose Reyes.
In addition to Reyes, Willie Harris, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen and Miguel Batista will be able to sign with other clubs starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday. Until then, teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their players.
As the Daily News reported Friday, the Mets will not sign Reyes during that period, and will allow other teams to set the market for the shortstop. Once that market is set - and team insiders are expecting the process to stretch into December or beyond - the Mets will decide if they consider it reasonable.
Beyond that slow-rolling drama, the Mets are highly unlikely to be high-end shoppers this offseason. If they do not re-sign Reyes, the team will look at the middle of that 148-player list, not the top. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson will wear other uniforms next season, as none of those top-tier names fits the Mets' needs and/or budget.
Aiming to rebuild their bullpen, augment their bench and perhaps make minor alterations to their rotation, while cutting payroll by approximately $30 million, the Mets will seek undervalued assets and hidden bargains.
The team could also invite some of their non-Reyes free agents to return. General manager Sandy Alderson has signalled an interest in re-signing Capuano. Young will still be rehabilitating his right shoulder after major surgery, but has a strong relationship with Alderson and might remain in the organization.
Team sources have said that Harris and Hairston will not be resigned until much later in the offseason, if they are re-signed at all. Harris became a clubhouse leader and one of manager Terry Collins' favorites, so a return is not impossible.
Isringhausen said late in the season that he wanted to pitch in 2012, but he seems unlikely to be a Met again. Batista, 40, also hopes to play, and said he would consider a minor league deal with the Mets.
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