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Mets GM: Reyes departure no shock for team

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Associated Press
12/5/2011 7:47:50 PM
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DALLAS -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is hardly shocked that Jose Reyes is leaving.

The all-star shortstop is headed to the Miami Marlins without ever receiving a formal offer from the team he originally signed with at 16 years old. But New York has no plans to give up another homegrown star, third baseman David Wright.

"Rightly or wrongly, I never felt that his situation was tied to Jose's," Alderson said Monday, hours after Reyes agreed to a US$106-million, six-year contract with the Marlins. "So the fact that Jose may have departed doesn't mean to me that a call's necessary to say hey, you're still here, or you're not going anywhere. I never assumed that there was going to be any change in his status at all."

Reyes was the NL batting champion last season. And while it seems the financially constrained Mets, plagued by losses from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, never had much of a chance to retain the speedy switch-hitter, there was a brief glimmer of hope last week after some initially positive feedback from his representatives.

"The window I think opened in this last week, but it closed very abruptly. ... I really think on Friday what we had generally proposed had some appeal, and by Saturday it was blown past that," Alderson said. "It didn't succeed, and we move on from here."

That means going forward without the four-time all-star at shortstop, answering questions about the future of Wright, and hoping that a healthy Johan Santana can contribute on the mound again after missing last season following shoulder surgery.

All that under the backdrop of three consecutive losing seasons, five years without a playoff berth and dwindling attendance.

The Mets went 77-85 last season. Attendance at Citi Field dropped to 2.35 million, down about seven per cent from 2010 and their lowest since 2004, when they played at Shea Stadium.

One pub and restaurant in New York on Monday was offering Mets fans an opportunity to exchange their No. 7 Reyes jerseys for a free beer to drown their sorrows, champagne to celebrate his departure or a free appetizer if they don't drink. The exchanged jerseys will be donated to clothing drives.

Alderson anticipates the Mets' payroll to be around $100 million, which he said gives them $20-$25 million in additional spending flexibility without Reyes. That includes money earmarked for outfielder Angel Pagan and starter Mike Pelfrey in arbitration.

"Going into 2012, if we get everybody back healthy, we could have a pretty good team, presuming we do some things here and later between now and spring training," Alderson said. "So I'm certainly not going to apologize for what I think we may be able to do in 2012.

"I don't believe that the Jose Reyes situation or anything with the reduction in our payroll has anything to do with these external issues like Madoff," he said. "It has to do with the fundamentals of the franchise and what it means to be making money, breaking even, losing a little or losing a terrific amount. We need to get back to the point where it's closer to break-even."

Mets manager Terry Collins has said Reyes is somebody that he would pay to see play, and was hopeful that the shortstop wouldn't leave.

"I knew what he was going through. We had enough discussions in the last week to know that he was going to have a lot of things on his mind," Collins said. "He's one of my best players, so I'm disappointed I don't have him. But I'm not surprised."

Collins sent Reyes a text Monday morning wishing him luck, along with another message.

"I told him 18 times this summer I'm going to be rooting against him," Collins said. "He just said thank you and he had a great time, and he said I'll see you in the spring."

The Mets had originally scheduled a conference call Monday night with Wright that was later cancelled. But there apparently is no intention of trading the five-time all-star right now.

Wright, going into the final season of a six-year deal that includes a club option for 2013, missed more than two months last season because of a stress fracture in his back.

"We've just reconfigured our fences. ... It certainly could have a short-term impact on somebody like David. It'd be a little bit inconsistent for us to make those changes on one hand and then turn around and trade one of the two or three people that might benefit most from those changes," Alderson said. "Plus, David has been, not just an excellent player for the Mets, but also a very loyal spokesperson for the franchise."

Jose Reyes (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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