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Coutinho: Jose Reyes Still Very Much In Mets' Plans

By Rich Coutinho
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The word filtered out late yesterday, "breaking news" that Jose Reyes would not talk contract until after the season. The fact this was labeled as "breaking news" is downright comical.

Jose Reyes has insisted all year that he will not negotiate until after the season. This was not exactly a revelation, though the Mets did the right thing reaching out to Reyes. It cemented the notion that they want him back. Now the question becomes for how long and how much?

Reyes is entitled to waiting this out as he has earned that right, and at the same time, the Mets have the right to exclusively negotiate with him after the season (which they intend on utilizing). That rule was recently changed to limit the incumbent team period, meaning the Mets will have the right to negotiate from the end of their season to five days after the World Series ends.

In reality, if the Mets don't make the playoffs, that could be nearly a month. Ironically, should they make the playoffs, that time will be shorter.

A lot has been theorized about this situation, so I will give you the info I know from both parties. The Mets will not trade Reyes. They intend on using that window to negotiate with him and even if that time evaporates without an agreement, they will continue the process -- which could become more difficult once other teams can start their bidding. The Reyes camp very much wants to hear what the Mets have to offer and will keep an open line of communication active once the season ends. Jose likes living here and playing here, but he also wants fair value for his services.

I think it is fair to say that the Reyes' value has risen in the past two months in the eyes of the organization and, more specifically, in the eyes of Sandy Alderson.  The Mets' fan base has not been shy about expressing their love for Jose, and do not think for a moment team ownership is not well aware of that fact. It must also be pointed out that waiting until season's end could be good for the Mets too, since the K-Rod situation will have more clarity at that point (which could affect the team's cash flow).

All these factors point me in the direction of Reyes staying with the Mets. Now, in order to do that, the franchise is going to have to "show him the money." And I think they are prepared to do that. And no, Mets fans -- it will not be at the expense of David Wright. I firmly believe the organization would love to field an infield of Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Jose Reyes and David Wright. The "all-homegrown infield."

I do think it will involve making due with less at other positions, like right field and the closer spot, which will have to be manned by players that honestly will not be as good as Beltran or K-Rod, at least in the short-term. That is, unless those players are willing to take short-term, low risk contracts, which is highly doubtful even if K-Rod's clause is not met.

Here's the bottom line. The events of Tuesday neither enhance nor decrease the chances of Reyes staying with the Mets. It just changed the time frame, with both parties still in a great position to strike a deal once the season ends.

Do you think the Mets have a chance at retaining Reyes? Let Coutinho know in the comments below...

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