Welcome back, Reyes perhaps one last time

Jose Reyes of the New York Mets looks

Jose Reyes of the New York Mets looks on against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. (May 28, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Ken Davidoff

Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff. Ken Davidoff

Davidoff joined Newsday in 2001, covering the Yankees for

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In the drawn-out, ultra-painful goodbye to Jose Reyes -- who, fittingly is putting up a career season -- it appears we've reached stage three:

Bargaining.

Reyes intends to return to the Mets' lineup today, after missing three days to mourn the death of his grandmother, and there's no doubt the Mets can use the help. They got embarrassed by the Pirates last night, 9-3, their second straight loss to Pittsburgh.

"No question about it. Ruben [Tejada] has done a nice job. But you miss the energy," Terry Collins said. "You miss the impact he has on the team offensively and defensively. When he comes back, I hope he'll be happy and smiling. We'll welcome him back."

What the Mets didn't do during Reyes' time away was figure out some sort of new math that will allow them to retain him for 2012 and beyond. The odds still heavily favor Reyes playing somewhere else next year. And unless the Mets (25-30) can figure out a way to contend for a playoff spot, it's quite likely that Reyes won't complete this season in Flushing.

Let's kick dirt on some of the hopes out there:

1. "Sandy Alderson is going to touch base with Reyes' representatives before the trade deadline. Maybe they can work out a deal!"

My sense is that conversation will go something like this:

Alderson: "Well, we really like Jose, but you know, we're a little strapped for cash. How would you feel about a five-year deal for $15 million?"

Peter Greenberg (Reyes' agent): "Five years for $75 million? We appreciate that! That's a good place to start negotia . . ."

Alderson (interrupting): "No, no, sorry. I mean five years for $15 million. $3 million a year."

OK, so I'm exaggerating. But rest assured, that will be a courtesy, cursory exchange. Reyes is set to make a haul as a free agent, and no July conversation with a team whose owner recently dissed him is going to alter that.

2. "Maybe Reyes won't get Carl Crawford money, just like Fred Wilpon said!"

Maybe he won't. Yet if we've learned one thing over the years, it's how difficult it can be to look ahead to December when we're in June.

A year ago at this time, for sure, no one would've said, "Well, Cliff Lee is headed back to the Phillies. And Jayson Werth will get seven years and $126 million from Washington."

3. "Maybe the Mets will keep Reyes and trade David Wright!"

Sure, maybe the Mets will trade Wright. Alderson and his staff surely will explore it, although trading him now would represent selling low.

Yet to present Wright and Reyes as an either / or proposition is to create a false choice. Wright is under team control through just 2013. Reyes figures to be at least a five-year commitment, starting next year, and quite likely longer than that.

Throw in the fact that Alderson doesn't believe in ginormous contracts. Remember, he ridiculed the Nationals for their Werth investment. It would be highly out of character for Alderson to endorse this sort of deal, and even if he did, ownership can't afford it.

Alderson must determine the best trade return on Reyes or, in the unlikely event that an attractive package doesn't emerge, simply hold onto Reyes and get the compensatory draft picks for him this winter when he departs free agency.

These are tough times to be a Mets fan. But if you're going to stick around, you might as well face reality, rather than hold onto the faintest of hopes.

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