NEW YORK -- A slow-developing market for free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes could receive some juice as soon as this weekend, when Mets general manager Sandy Alderson plans to reopen the lines of communication with Reyes' agents at the Winter Meetings, which start Monday in Dallas.
"I certainly would hope that we'll have conversations ... by the time we get to Dallas, or at Dallas," Alderson said Thursday afternoon, noting that he has not spoken recently with Reyes or his representatives. "I do expect to have them over the next handful of days."
Publicly at least, Alderson says he does not have any better sense of the market for Reyes than he did two weeks ago, when unconfirmed reports of Miami's six-year, $90 million offer first surfaced. Though the Brewers and Phillies have also displayed tepid interest in the free-agent shortstop, no reports of additional offers have leaked since mid-November.
That may be in part due to the strategy of Reyes' agents, who have declined comment on their negotiations throughout the offseason.
"There's just a general uncertainty about the marketplace and where values are," Alderson said. "It may have something to do with the top free agents not having moved -- [Albert] Pujols and [Prince] Fielder and Jose Reyes. It may just be the dynamic between clubs and free agents.
"As far as the market for Jose is concerned, I only know what I read in the paper. There haven't been additional reports I've heard about other offers. So I'm not sure there's much more clarity than we had the first time, when Miami's bid/proposal was reported."
Certainly there is a wide range of thinking regarding Reyes, a wildly talented shortstop in his prime whose extensive injury history has dampened his value. The Mets have maintained all offseason that they would like to re-sign Reyes -- but if Miami's reported $90 million deal represents the floor of his market, they may not be able to.
With roughly two-thirds of their stated 2012 payroll tied up in six players, the Mets still must sign at least one late-inning reliever, at least one starting pitcher and as many as four bench players, in a process they hope will progress next week in Dallas. The only details Alderson offered on those pursuits Thursday was that despite a report to the contrary, the Mets have not had any contact with longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.
In many ways, the Mets remain in wait-and-see mode. Despite deals elsewhere for Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton, Alderson says he is still analyzing the market for free-agent relievers. The Mets do not appear to have made significant progress on their bench or starting pitching pursuits. And there is little they can do regarding Reyes, who continues to feel out the market on his own terms.
Simply put, Reyes wants to maximize his contract. The Mets want to minimize it.
An expectant fan base can only hope the two sides draw closer at the Winter Meetings next week.
"The free agents would like to think that a certain market exists, and clubs at this point are holding out some hope that that market doesn't exist," Alderson said. "I don't know. But it can all change in three days in Dallas."