Reyes likely out of Mets' price range

Dominican Republic's Hanley Ramirez, right, jokes in the Dominican Republic's Hanley Ramirez, right, jokes in the dugout with teammate Jose Reyes during an exhibition spring baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals. (March 5, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

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MILWAUKEE -- Jose Reyes has received only one known contract offer to date, and already the free-agent shortstop appears perilously close to being out of the Mets' price range.

Mets officials believe in the accuracy of a Fox Sports report that the Marlins have offered Reyes six years and $90 million to join them as their shortstop, with Hanley Ramirez set to move from that position.

"He's just a dynamic player," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said of Reyes Tuesday at the general managers' meetings. "We've seen a lot of him in our division. The speed tool and the enthusiasm. Plays with a lot of joy on the basepaths.

"He's a game-changer in a lot of ways because of the tools he brings. He's a good player. He's a tough guy to play against."

In Ramirez, the Marlins already have one of the game's best shortstops, and multiple reports have asserted that Ramirez didn't want to change positions. Beinfest, while insisting he would keep his conversations with Ramirez private, added, "Hanley wants to win. He's working hard to keep his shoulder 100 percent so he'll be ready to go on April 4 [Opening Night]. He's excited about the team.''

The Marlins brought Reyes to Miami last week to let him see their new ballpark. They did the same for free-agent first baseman Albert Pujols, but Pujols likely is too pricey for Florida.

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A contract worth $90 million likely won't get it done for Reyes, who is aiming to exceed $100 million. The offseason is relatively young, and Mets officials expect Reyes to act deliberately in choosing his next employer. With only one major free agent off the market -- the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon -- there's no hurry for Reyes to get something done.

Yet for a club that fully acknowledges it's in teardown mode, the Mets also realize that Reyes' price -- more in years than dollars at this juncture -- is creeping beyond their comfort level. If there's any good news, it's that the Mets fully expect to receive two draft picks for losing Reyes, even as compensation for other players will change thanks to the nearly completed collective bargaining agreement.

So the Mets will stay in touch with Reyes but also continue working on a post-Reyes roster. Sandy Alderson said Monday that the club could wind up signing two lower-tier free-agent relievers with closing experience. The list of such pitchers includes Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, former Met Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco, Brad Lidge and Joe Nathan.

The club also will try to find a starting pitcher to replace free agent Chris Capuano, who wants a two-year contract. Manhasset native Jason Marquis, who pitched high school ball in Staten Island, intrigues the Mets as insurance for Johan Santana's health and Dillon Gee's performance; Gee has minor-league options remaining.

Marquis, 33, repeatedly has expressed an interest in pitching for his hometown club. After spending the 2011 season with Washington and Arizona, he might finally get his wish.

In other news, the Mets have flipped the jobs of Mike Herbst, formerly their assistant trainer, and Brian Chicklo, formerly the medical coordinator. Herbst will be based in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and oversee health and conditioning of the Mets' minor-league players. Chicklo will assist Mets head trainer Ray Ramirez.

The decision stemmed from the Mets' hope to avoid the abundance of disabled-list time that plagued them in recent years.

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