DALLAS -- The suddenly splurging Miami Marlins landed their second big free agent in a matter of days, agreeing Sunday night to a US$106 million, six-year contract with all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
After adding all-star closer Heath Bell for $27 million over three years, the Marlins gave the NL batting champion a deal that includes a club option for 2018 that would make the contract worth $120 million, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.
Preparing to move into a $515 million retractable-roof ballpark, the Marlins have become a driving force in the market ahead of the winter meetings, which start Monday. They've also shown interest in acquiring one of the high-profile free-agent first basemen: Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.
Reyes is following Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran out of New York, leaving David Wright and Johan Santana as the Mets' last remaining stars. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson began hearing rumours of the deal Sunday afternoon.
"If the numbers are what are speculated and Jose does leave us, I don't think people will be surprised that under those circumstances he went elsewhere. It doesn't mean they'll be happy about it," said Alderson, who spoke with Reyes' agents earlier in the day. "There was an indication to me that things were moving. Exactly how far. I didn't ask. I didn't need to."
The 28-year-old Reyes won the NL batting crown last season, becoming the first player in Mets history to do it. He hit .337 and also topped the league with 16 triples, while also stealing 39 bases.
Reyes is a four-time all-star and three-time stolen base champion. But he has been prone to injuries in recent seasons, particularly to his hamstrings. He has not played more than 133 games in any of the last three years.
His arrival in Miami, where the Marlins will be wearing new brightly coloured uniforms, likely means three-time all-star Hanley Ramirez will be shifting from shortstop to third base.
Reyes received the second-nine figure deal of the off-season, following centre fielder Matt Kemp's $160 million, eight-year contract to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reyes' departure is another blow to the Mets, who went 77-85 in their third straight losing season. Attendance at Citi Field dropped to 2.35 million, down about 7 per cent from last year and their lowest since 2004, when they played at Shea Stadium.
Alderson said the Mets never made Reyes a formal offer.
"I don't believe Mets' fans will be surprised